Ukraine heads for ballot re-run

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The Independent Online

Ukraine was heading for a re-run of its disputed presidential election last night after the country's parliament adopted an emergency resolution declaring last Sunday's results null and void.

Ukraine was heading for a re-run of its disputed presidential election last night after the country's parliament adopted an emergency resolution declaring last Sunday's results null and void.

Deputies said the election, between the pro-Western challenger Viktor Yushchenko and the pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych, "did not reflect the people's will" and was marred by "massive violations of law".

The resolution came against a background of increasingly volatility and huge protests across the country on both sides of the political spectrum, and as parts of eastern Ukraine began to talk openly about seceding and going it alone.

Fresh elections, which the Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot said yesterday would be desirable, could take place as early as December 12.

Although the parliament's resolution, which was supported by 255 deputies out of a total 450, was not binding it was of tremendous symbolic importance and is likely to influence the Supreme Court, which is convening on Monday to consider claims that last Sunday's poll was rigged.

The vote delighted supporters of Viktor Yushchenko, the candidate who claims he was robbed of victory. An enormous cheer emanated from Kiev's Independence Square, where many of them are camped when the result was announced.

However, the vote was not well received in the east of the country, which supports the winner, Mr Yanukovych. He officially beat Mr Yushchenko by a margin of 2.85 per cent.

When the results became known, stony-faced pro-Yanukovych MPs looked gloomy and shocked, in contrast to pro-Yushchenko deputies who cheered and pumped their fists in the air theatrically while waving their ubiquitous orange scarves.

In a separate move, the parliament also endorsed a vote of no confidence in the electoral commission which certified the contested results demanding that it be stocked with new appointees.

There were signs yesterday of a backlash, however, from Ukraine's Moscow-friendly east. An estimated 150,000 Yanukovych supporters vented their fury on the streets of Donetsk, his power base and the industrial town where he used to be governor.

They appeared to be in no mood to allow the Orange Revolution to roll on unchecked.

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