May 20 (UPI) — Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy was sworn in Monday as the sixth president of Ukraine, vowing to achieve a ceasefire with Russian-backed separatists while announcing the disbandment of parliament.
In his inaugural speech before parliament in the capital of Kiev, Zelenskiy said his top priority will be to achieve a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine known as Donbas where fighting between Russian-back separatists and Ukraine has been ongoing since 2014.
“Our first task is to achieve a ceasefire in Donbas,” he said after having recited the oath to serve his country with his hand upon the Constitution and the Peresopnytsia Gospel, a 16th-century manuscript used in the inaugural ceremony.
He said he is prepared to lose his popularity “and my post” in order to end a war that Ukraine didn’t start while adding that he will reclaim both Crimea and Donbas, Euro News reported.
He also announced the end of the tradition of hanging the president’s photo in public offices, stating “a president is not an icon. Don’t put up my portrait,” Kyiv Post reported.
Then near the end of his inauguration speech, he announced the disbandment of parliament and called for elections within two months despite concerns over whether he has the power to do so, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
“When I won the election, my 6-year-old son heard on TV that Zelenskiy is the new president,” he said. “He asked me, ‘does it mean I’m the president too? And I reliazed … everyone is president – not the 73 percent who voted for me, but all the 100 percent of Ukrainians.”
Zelenskiy was elected president last month by a landslide over incumbent President Petro Poroshenko, 53, winning 72.7 percent of the vote.