Ukraine's Tymoshenko reluctant to concede defeat

Tymoshenko had instructed her lawyers to prepare for court challenge of the results, the daily's website reported.

Ukraine's Tymoshenko reluctant to concede defeat

Defeated Ukrainian presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko "will never recognise" the victory of her rival Viktor Yanukovich in Sunday's closely-fought election, a local newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Latest official results gave ex-mechanic Yanukovich a near three-percentage point margin of victory over Tymoshenko, who is prime minister and co-led the Orange Revolution after rigged elections in 2004. International monitors have declared Sunday's election was fair but the premier has so far refused to concede.

"I will never recognise the legitimacy of Yanukovich's victory with such elections," the Ukrainska Pravda quoted Tymoshenko as telling a meeting of her party on Monday evening.

Tymoshenko had instructed her lawyers to prepare for court challenge of the results, the daily's website reported.

A legal challenge to the narrow margin of victory -- 2.9 percentage points with 98.8 percent of the votes counted -- could deny Ukraine a swift return to stability and rattle financial markets.

Tymoshenko's parliamentary faction claimed there had been "widespread fraud" by Yanukovich's Regions Party camp and said it would take legal action to defend the right to fair elections.

"Defeat"

"Voting day displayed a cynical violation of Ukrainian law by the teams of Yanukovich, pressure on the electors and a broad arsenal of falsification by the Regions Party," Tymoshenko bloc deputy Serhiy Sobolev told parliament.

"Consequently, the Tymoshenko bloc announces that we will defend in the courts your right, our citizens, to honest and transparent elections," he said.

Under Ukrainian law, instances of suspected fraud must first be proven by local courts. Only if there is a large quantity of proven violations can one side appeal to a higher court for a recount or even a re-run of an election.

Such organised action could -- at the very least -- delay official publication of the final election results and hold up any inauguration of a new president. This normally takes place within 30 days of publication of results.

If Tymoshenko conceded defeat, Yanukovich could normally have expected to be sworn in as president in mid-March.

International monitors declared the election an impressive display of democracy and urged a peaceful transition of power. There were no serious irregularities, they said.

Yanukovich campaign manager Borys Kolesnykov ruled out any re-run of the election following Sunday's second round run-off.

"What third round? There are no reasons for it. What, the fact that she lost with disgrace? She will go on until an eighth round before they elect her," he told Reuters. "There will be no third round. There will be courts -- please go to court -- but there is no legal basis (for action)."

Tymoshenko herself did not appear in parliament but she was due to give a news conference later on Tuesday.

There was no mood in the snow-bound capital Kiev for a repeat of the street protests co-led by Tymoshenko which overturned a previous Yanukovich victory in the 2004 election later declared fraudulent.

Tymoshenko cannot catch up with Yanukovich in the vote-count although just 734,000 votes separated the two sides, in a vote that underscored Ukraine's deep divide.

As votes trickled in on Sunday evening, the 49-year-old former gas tycoon cried fraud but backed away from an earlier threat to call people out onto the streets.

Western investors and Ukraine's powerful neighbour Russia reacted cautiously to the victory of Yanukovich, whose party is allied to the Kremlin's United Russia.

The official result signalled a remarkable comeback for Yanukovich, who tapped widespread disillusionment with the Orange Revolution democracy movement that delivered years of infighting instead of prosperity and stability.

Yanukovich may seek to form a coalition to get an ally into the role of prime minister, replacing Tymoshenko. This will require support from the Our Ukraine faction of outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko, which is far from certain.

Failure to secure a workable majority would force fresh parliamentary polls, possibly as early as June although autumn is more likely, but Yanukovich appears reluctant to call more elections for fear of voter fatigue.


Reuters

Last Mod: 09 Şubat 2010, 13:14
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