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Ukraine's Leader Disbands Parliament, Calls Snap Election

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, center, speaks during a meeting with lawmakers in Kiyev, Ukraine, May 21, 2019.

Ukraine's new president on Tuesday ordered the dissolution of the nation's legislature and called a snap election in two months, hoping to ride the wave of his electoral success to get his supporters into parliament.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a 41-year-old comedian who won 73% of the vote last month, announced his intention to disband parliament in his inauguration speech Monday, saying that current lawmakers are focused on self-enrichment and lack public trust.

He quickly fulfilled the promise in Tuesday's decree that set the parliamentary election for July 21.

The election to the Verkhovna Rada was originally scheduled for Oct. 27, a situation that would have put Zelenskiy in a position where he would face a parliament dominated by supporters of former President Petro Poroshenko and would be unable to pursue his agenda for months.

Zelenskiy, who has become famous for playing the role of a Ukrainian president in a widely popular TV sitcom, is gambling that his popularity will allow his party to make a successful showing in the parliamentary vote.

"Zelenskiy is trying to act as quickly as possible, because he realizes that voters' excitement will cool down in half-a-year,'' said Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the Kiev-based independent think-tank Penta.

His foes in parliament sought to push back his inauguration past the May 27 deadline by which the parliament can be dissolved, but eventually had to submit to public pressure.

Zelenskiy's landslide victory reflected Ukrainians' exasperation with the country's economic woes and rampant official corruption and the country's political elite.

Zelenskiy already has asked several top ministers to step down, but he will likely have trouble getting their successors appointed by the current parliament.

In his inaugural speech, Zelenskiy said the main goal for the presidency is to bring peace to eastern Ukraine, where government troops have been fighting Russia-backed separatists for five years in a conflict that has left at least 13,000 dead.