Yanukovych ap­par­ent win­ner over Ty­moshenko in Ukraine’s pres­i­den­tial race

Cape Breton Post - - CLASSIFIEDS -

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — In­ter­na­tional mon­i­tors on Mon­day hailed Ukraine’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion as trans­par­ent and hon­est, bol­ster­ing op­po­si­tion leader Vik­tor Yanukovych’s claim of victory and leav­ing Prime Min­is­ter Yu­lia Ty­moshenko in a strate­gic bind.

Ty­moshenko, who was the charis­matic cat­a­lyst of the 2004 Or­ange Revo­lu­tion mass protests, had said she would call sup­port­ers into the streets if she deemed Sun­day’s elec­tion fraud­u­lent. But al­though she has sig­nalled she will chal­lenge the out­come in the courts, she is­sued no protest call on Mon­day and can­celled two planned news con­fer­ences as she ap­par­ently weighed her op­tions.

In­ter­na­tional ob­servers’ crit­i­cism of the 2004 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion lent sig­nif­i­cant weight to the Or­ange protests, which ended with a court-or­dered revote in which Yanukovych was de­feated by Vik­tor Yushchenko. This time, the ob­servers’ im­pri­matur could un­der­mine any call for protest.

Yanukovych had a lead of 3.2 per­cent­age points, with 99.44 of the bal­lots counted. When all the votes have been counted, the Cen­tral Elec­tions Com­mis­sion will release the pre­lim­i­nary tally.

A Yanukovych victory would close a chap­ter in the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal his­tory by oust­ing the pro-West­ern lead­er­ship of the past five years, which foundered due to in­ter­nal di­vi­sions, fierce op­po­si­tion from Rus­sian-speak­ing east­ern Ukraine and the col­lapse of the econ­omy.

As pres­i­dent, Yanukovych would try to bal­ance re­la­tions with Moscow against Europe, tilt­ing to Moscow where his Or­ange Revo­lu­tion pre­de­ces­sors tilted West. But his nar­row man­date, Ukraine’s deeply di­vided so­ci­ety and mori­bund econ­omy will limit his abil­ity to im­ple­ment des­per­ately needed po­lit­i­cal re­forms.

In the view of many, the role of pres­i­dency it­self needs to be re­stored to the sta­tus it held be­fore a com­pro­mise thrashed out be­tween Yushchenko and his pre­de­ces­sor, Pres­i­dent Leonid Kuchma, stripped the of­fice of much of its power. The set­tle­ment al­lowed for a way out of the po­lit­i­cal im­passe cre­ated by the Or­ange re­volt, but it left the pres­i­dency woe­fully prone to po­lit­i­cal black­mail at the hands of par­lia­ment and the Cab­i­net.

The in­ter­na­tional mon­i­tors is­sued a joint state­ment say­ing “ the pro­fes­sional, trans­par­ent and hon­est vot­ing and count­ing should serve as a solid foun­da­tion for a peace­ful tran­si­tion of power.”

Joao Soares — head of the ob­ser­va­tion mis­sion from the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Se­cu­rity and Co­op­er­a­tion in Europe’s Par­lia­men­tary As­sem­bly — said the vote was an im­pres­sive dis­play of a demo­cratic elec­tion and a victory for the peo­ple of Ukraine. In com­ments ap­par­ently di­rected at Ty­moshenko, he urged Ukraine’s politi­cians to heed the of­fi­cial vote tally.

“It is now time for the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal leaders to lis­ten to the peo­ple’s ver­dict and make sure that the tran­si­tion of power is peace­ful and constructive,” Soares said.

The leader of a del­e­ga­tion of 200 elec­tion ob­servers from Canada also said the vote was “ fair and trans­par­ent.”

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