By Yuliia Dysa
KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is weighing the pros and cons of a spring 2024 presidential vote, his foreign minister said on Friday, though there are major concerns over how to organise a free and fair vote during war with Russia.
After Russia invaded in February 2022, Ukraine declared martial law which prohibits elections.
But there have been some calls, including from U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, for votes to proceed even if the war does not end, as evidence of democratic health.
“We are not closing this page. The president of Ukraine is considering and weighing the different pros and cons,” said Dmytro Kuleba, adding that elections would bring unprecedented challenges.
Ukraine was scheduled to hold a parliamentary election in October and a presidential vote in March 2024.
Kuleba made his comment during an online appearance at the World Policy Conference in the United Arab Emirates when asked whether Ukraine would hold a presidential election in spring.
He pointed to problems of security risks and how to ensure votes for hundreds of thousands of soldiers, millions of Ukrainians abroad and those living under Russian occupation.
ZELENSKIY WANTS SECOND TERM IF VOTE HELD
Zelenskiy has said elections can take place if needed, but that parliament would have to change the law and foreign assistance would be needed to help foot the bill and find somewhere for millions to vote abroad.
Zelenskiy has said he wants to run for another term if an election happens. His ratings remain very high, although they have fallen slightly since the first year of war.
Russia controls nearly a fifth of Ukraine and about 6 million Ukrainians now live around Europe.
Political analysts and some opposition politicians have said it would be extremely difficult for Ukraine to guarantee a free, fair and safe electoral process as Russia continues to strike the country with drones and missiles.
Several major TV networks – vital platforms for election campaigning – are also transmitting a single wartime broadcast.
Opponents of holding a vote fear Russia would try to derail it while political jockeying would undermine national unity.
(Reporting by Yuliia Dysa, writing by Olena Harmash; editing by Tom Balmforth and Andrew Cawthorne)