Ukrainian boxer-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko on Saturday withdrew his candidacy from the race to become the country’s next president, saying he will instead throw his support behind confectionary oligarch Petro Poroshenko.
Klitschko’s withdrawal, and Poroshenko’s late Friday announcement that he would stand in the May 25 election, sets up a battle between the man known as the “Chocolate King” and Ukraine’s fiery former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko.
“The only chance of winning is to nominate one candidate from the democratic forces,” Klitschko told a meeting of his UDAR (Punch) party.
"This has to be a candidate who enjoys the strongest public support. Today, this candidate in my opinion is Petro Poroshenko," Klitschko said.
The 42-year-old Klitschko conceded to fellow members of his aptly-named UDAR (Punch) party that he had slipped badly in public approval ratings in the tumultuous weeks following the February 22 ouster of pro-Kremlin president Viktor Yanukovich.
Klitschko was viewed as the most potent political threat to Yanukovich at the height of the Maidan protests and enjoyed the support of more than 20 percent of potential voters in late December.
But a survey published by four respected Ukrainian research firms this week put him second in the presidential ratings with less than 9 percent of the vote.
"We have to nominate a single candidate representing the democratic forces," Klitschko told an UDAR party congress.
Klitschko said that he planned to run for mayor of Kiev in elections that will be held alongside the presidential polls.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-03-29