Confectionery tycoon Petro Poroshenko has claimed victory in Ukraine’s presidential election.
According to exit polls the man known as the “chocolate king” won more than 55% of the vote, giving him an absolute majority with no need for a second round runoff.
Former boxer Vitaliy Klitschko also claimed to have been elected mayor of Kyiv in a separate poll.
Immediately Poroshenko said his first priority was to travel to the east of the country to end the war and chaos:
“Ukraine now is in a state of war. Ukraine now is the object of aggression. Every single night Ukrainian soldiers are giving their lives for restoring law, order and peace in the eastern part of Ukraine. And me – as not only the President but as a future commander in chief of Ukrainian armed forces – try to do my best to defend Ukrainian people, to bring security and to bring peace.”
Eighteen candidates had competed for the presidency. Exit polls put former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko a distant second with around 13%.
“I am convinced that my team and myself personally will do all that we can to help the government of Ukraine to build a strong Ukraine and to have a referendum on Ukraine’s membership of NATO and to defend Ukraine through full membership of the European Union and through collective security and defence systems of the whole world,” Tymoshenko told supporters after appearing to accept defeat.