Ukraine’s parliament voted Thursday to hold on Monday the inauguration of newly elected president Volodymyr Zelensky after he wrangled with lawmakers over the date.
Zelensky had wanted to hold the inauguration on Sunday, but those plans were controversial because that is a day of mourning for victims of Stalin-era repressions in the former-Soviet country.
The 41-year-old comedy actor, whose only previous experience in politics was playing the president in a television series, crushed the incumbent Petro Poroshenko in a runoff vote on April 21, in which he took 73.2 percent of the vote.
He repeatedly accused MPs of deliberately postponing the inauguration. But they defeated him and voted in favour of holding it on Monday, with 315 backing the date and two opposing.
The long and rancorous wrangling over the date suggest that Zelensky may struggle to impose his will over a parliament in which he does not command a majority despite his decisive victory in the presidential poll.
Following the vote, Zelensky on Facebook slammed the lawmakers as “petty crooks.”
His advisor Dmytro Razumkov told Ukrainian news agency Interfax that some lawmakers voted for a Monday inauguration “simply in order not to support the proposal of the country’s president.”
But pro-Western MP Serguiy Vysotsky wrote on Facebook that “the language of ultimatums is not politics,” accusing Zelensky of behaving “like a child who wants everything to go the way he wants.”
Zelensky’s team has suggested that the lawmakers’ decision to delay the inauguration could affect the president’s ability to call snap elections to take advantage of his current popularity instead of waiting until October.
Zelensky has promised to eradicate Ukraine’s widespread corruption and end the war with Russia-backed separatists in the east of the country, accusing the outgoing president of doing nothing to improve living standards and reduce poverty.
Yet beyond continuing Ukraine’s pro-Western course, his programme remains unclear and his team largely unknown, raising questions over how he will run a country battling pro-Russian separatists in the east and an unprecedented crisis in relations with Moscow as well economic woes.