Ukraine faces run-off vote with Yanukovich, Tymoshenko

A presidential election produced no outright winner, official results showed on Monday.

Ukraine faces run-off vote with Yanukovich, Tymoshenko

Ukraine faces a Feb. 7 run-off vote between opposition leader Viktor Yanukovich and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko after a presidential election produced no outright winner, official results showed on Monday.

The election will define how Ukraine, a former Soviet republic of 46 million people wedged between the European Union and Russia, handles relations with its powerful neighbours.

Yanukovich, a 59-year-old former mechanic, had a strong lead with 36.86 percent after 50.36 percent of the ballots had been counted from Sunday's election, the Central Election Commission said. Tymoshenko had 24.31 percent.

Tymoshenko, 49, helped lead the pro-Western Orange Revolution against Yanukovich's 2004 presidential election victory.

"As of today I am ready for talks so that we can move forward with uniting the democratic forces," she told reporters on Sunday.

Two candidates who came third and fourth, former central bank chief Sergey Tigipko and former parliament speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk, said they would not come out in support of any candidate in the second round.

An aide to Tymoshenko, who amassed a fortune in her years in the gas industry, said however that her camp hoped to meet Tigipko -- who has so far won 13.08 percent of the vote votes -- in the next few days.

Both leading candidates have pledged to seek better relations with neigbouring energy supplier Russia, in part to avoid the spats of recent years which led to supply cut-offs affecting parts of Europe.

Yanukovich has called for a strong, independent Ukraine following a neutral path and not joining NATO or any other bloc. He attacked Yushchenko for excessively confrontational policies towards Russia and says Ukraine's real enemy is poverty.

Turnout was 67 percent, preliminary official data showed. This compared to 75 percent in the first round of the 2004 poll.

Voters appear to have punished incumbent President Viktor Yushchenko, one of the architects of the Orange Revolution, for the country's recent political in-fighting.

A survey by the Western-funded National Exit Poll Consortium gave Yushchenko just 6 percent of the ballot.


Reuters

Last Mod: 18 Ocak 2010, 15:03
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