Kuchma to face run-off in presidential election

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The Independent Online

Incumbent Ukrainian president, Leonid Kuchma, was leading on Sunday in the country's presidential elections, but appeared to be heading for a second round after failing to win an outright majority in a tight contest with several left-wing candidates, according to an exit poll.

Incumbent Ukrainian president, Leonid Kuchma, was leading on Sunday in the country's presidential elections, but appeared to be heading for a second round after failing to win an outright majority in a tight contest with several left-wing candidates, according to an exit poll.

Kuchma appeared to be the top vote-getter, but failed to gain the outright majority required to win outright, according to the joint poll, conducted by three top polling agencies. There was no immediate indication who the other candidate would be in the run-off, which is scheduled for Nov. 14.

Kuchma was expected to take about 40 percent of the vote, with Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko in second place with 20 percent, according to the nationwide poll commissioned by the Democratic Initiative Foundation, a private think-tank. The poll was released before any results from the voting were announced.

The election was a key test of Kuchma's popularity after five years of cautious, often flawed market reforms. He faced strong competition from several left-wing candidates who had advocated a return to Soviet-style state economic controls and closer ties to Russia.

Kuchma's main rivals were Symonenko; radical Marxist Natalia Vitrenko; Yevhen Marchuk, a moderate ex-prime minister who favors pro-Western reforms; and Oleksandr Moroz, head of Ukraine's Socialist Party.

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