KIEV: “Chocolate King” Petro Poroshenko has won Ukraine’s presidential election on Sunday with an absolute majority, exit polls showed.
Poroshenko won 55.9 percent of the vote, ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko 12.9 percent of the vote, and Oleh Lyashko, 8 percent, according to the national exit poll.
Another exit poll, conducted by the TNS pollster at television channels’ order, indicates that Poroshenko got 57.3 percent of the vote, Tymoshenko 12.4 percent and Lyashko 8.7 percent.
A third exit poll, conducted by sociologists of the Savik Shuster Studio, demonstrated similar figures, with Poroshenko winning 55.7 percent of the vote, Tymoshenko 12.9 percent and Lyashko 8.8 percent.
If confirmed by results on Monday, there will be no need for a runoff vote on June 15, which Poroshenko has said could destabilize the country.
Poroshenko, 48, a wealthy businessman and independent politician, was taking the lead before the vote. He is also a former minister of trade and the head of the council that runs the national bank. Known as the “Chocolate King”, he controls a large confectionery group called Roshen.
The election has about 35.5 million eligible voters and 34,000 polling stations across the country, except Crimea.
Meanwhile, the separatists have proclaimed independent “people’s republics” in the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk and blocked voting there on Sunday. It is reported that only about 20 percent of polling stations in the two eastern regions had functioned.
The Ukrainian government has deployed around 55,700 police officers and 20,000 volunteers to guarantee public order at the polling stations across the country.
Some 3,500 international observers, including diplomats from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and representatives of 19 foreign countries have monitored the vote.
The early election was called three months after former President Viktor Yanukovych was forced out of office in February and fled to Russia soon afterwards. PNA