Petro Poroshenko, the billionaire "Chocolate King", is now the front-runner to win the May Ukrainian presidential election over the likes of freed ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Poroshenko, 48, is the owner of a confectionery chain that has made him one of Ukraine's 10 richest people, with an estimated worth of $1.3 billion (£780 million).

Former boxer Vitaly Klitschko has dropped out of the presidential running and endorsed Poroshenko for the Ukrainian presidency.

However, the confectionery tycoon led election polls on 25% even before Klitschko pulled out of the race, with Klitschko on 9% and Tymoshenko on 8.3%.

The current interim Ukrainian government hopes that the upcoming election will unite eastern and western Ukraine despite prominent differences in the wake of Russia's incursion into Crimea.

Poroshenko and Tymoshenko, the figurehead of the 2004 "Orange Revolution", are both portraying themselves as "Ukrainian unity" candidates, but Poroshenko has found favour after backing the Euromaidan movement that ousted ex-President Viktor Yanukovich.

He was the only oligarch to support the anti-government movement and was seen with opposition leaders in Independence Square at the heart of the uprising.

It is believed that his fortune and extensive business contacts will ensure that he is a successful president, if elected, by keeping Ukraine's tycoons onside. However, some have warned him not to aggravate the volatile public mood in Ukraine.

"Poroshenko must be very careful. At the moment, the national mood is in his favour and the most important thing for him is not to do anything that could negatively influence public opinion," Volodymyr Fesenko of the Penta think tank told Reuters.

May the force be with you

The Ukraine crisis began when Yanukovich reneged on a trade association deal with the European Union, signing a customs union deal with Russia instead.

He is wanted for mass murder in Ukraine after the bloodshed that ensued during the anti-government protests when government snipers and police shot more than 100 people.

Tymoshenko is not the only candidate that Poroshenko will have to contend with - Darth Vader has also entered the running.

A man dressed as the Sith Lord from the Star Wars sage, representing the Ukrainian Internet Party (UIP), has thrown his hat into the ring for the presidential vote.

"I alone can make an empire out of a republic, to restore former glories, to return lost territories and pride for this country," Vader said in a statement.