Poroshenko claims victory in Ukraine election
Billionaire has majority lead in exit poll, with former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko trailing second.
Petro Poroshenko has declared himself winner in Ukraine’s presidential election and vowed to end the conflict in his country, after an exit poll showed he had won an outright majority.
Poroshenko, appearing on television on Sunday shortly after the poll was published, hailed what he said was a record turnout in a Ukrainian election.
“The first steps that must be taken must focus on finishing the war, the chaos, and bring peace to a united Ukraine,” said Poroshenko, a billionaire businessman who also has political experience.
“A united Ukraine is the basis of my presidential programme,” he said. “The majority of voters supported a pro-European choice and this is extremely important.”
He also said he would never recognise Russia’s “occupation of Crimea”.
The National Exit Poll 2014 showed Poroshenko had 55.9 percent of the vote, well ahead of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko in second place with 12.9 percent. The poll had a margin of error of 3.5 percent.
The official result will be released on Monday.
Tymoshenko stood on stage with Poroshenko as he claimed the election. She said: “I am confident that the incoming president has the opportunity, influence and power to stop the war immediately.
“Our team and me personally will do everything to help build a powerful, European Ukraine.”
Voter turnout was high for the election, although voting was slower in the separatist strongholds in the east of the country, such as Donetsk.
Ukrainian political analyst Valentyna Romanova told Al Jazeera that while people to Ukraine’s east “used to dislike people who won the presidency in Kiev before”, Poroshenko believed he was capable of winning their support.
“Decentralisation reform can hopefully be a successful institutional mechanism to ensure the voice of the people of Donetsk can be heard,” Romanova said.