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Yanukovych set to be Ukrainian prez
Keiv, Feb 8 (Agencies):
Published on 8 Feb. 2010 11:42 PM IST
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Ukraine’s Russian-leaning opposition leader, Viktor Yanukovych, was today on course to become the country’s president, with early results indicating he had a narrow two-point lead over his bitter rival, the prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko. Yanukovych, the villain of the 2004 Orange Revolution, appeared to be ­heading for a remarkable comeback. With more than 94% of the vote counted, results showed Yanukovych with 48.23% against 46.14% for his longtime rival Tymoshenko. Exit polls last night had put him up to four points ahead. But the closeness of the finish sets the scene for a major political battle in Kiev. Last night Tymoshenko refused to concede defeat. She is now certain to appeal in court, citing fraud by Yanukovych’s camp. Western officials have described a gap of less than 3% between the candidates as the “worst-case scenario”. Claiming victory last night, Yanukovych said in a TV interview: “I think Yulia Tymoshenko should prepare to resign. She understands that well.” He said his priority as president would be to restore the economy. “I will carry out the reforms that will allow us to overcome soon the consequences of the economic crisis.” Describing the vote as a “turning point in our country’s history”, he said he would pursue policies that helped all Ukrainians – and not favour one geographical area. “We don’t need to find enemies in our country. We need to unite together,” he declared. Tymoshenko said last night her opponent’s slender lead in exit polls was “within the margin of error … it is too soon to draw any conclusions”. Even before polling stations had closed, her aides had accused her rival of “open banditry and terrorism”, claiming that her election observers had been barred from 1,000 polling stations in the eastern Donetsk region. Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions rejected this. Hundreds of Yanukovych’s supporters took to the streets of Kiev and set up camp outside Ukraine’s central election commission building – an echo of the anti-Yanukovych protests that took place during the revolution on Kiev’s Independence Square five years ago. International observers are due to deliver their verdict on the election later today. The verdict is likely to be crucial in determining whether Tymoshenko can sustain a legal challenge against the result.

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