Court Delays Validation Of Ukraine Vote

KIEV, Ukraine -- A court has postponed the validation of parliamentary election results, officials said Wednesday, threatening to delay the formation of a government in Ukraine, which is struggling to emerge from prolonged political turmoil.

The Communists are delaying Yulia Tymoshenko's appointment as Prime Minister

The move came as President Viktor Yushchenko endorsed a parliamentary coalition made up of two pro-Western parties that were allies in the peaceful 2004 upheaval that ushered him to power. He vowed to support their choice for premier, bringing the charismatic Orange Revolution heroine Yulia Tymoshenko closer to returning to the job.

Ukraine's High Administrative Court has postponed the official publication of the results of the Sep. 30 vote pending a lawsuit filed by the Communist Party, said spokesman Zoya Sharikova. The Communists are seeking to contest the election results due to alleged violations concerning voting abroad.

The final tallies were to be published in government media Thursday, officially validating the vote. Sharikova said the results would be published as soon as the court rules on the Communists' appeal.

Court officials were not available for comment late Wednesday.

The decision could lead to a protracted battle over the validity of the parliamentary election results, causing new turmoil in the ex-Soviet republic.

Yushchenko's and Tymoshenko's parties won 228 seats in the 450-member Verkhovna Rada, two seats more than a bare majority. The rival Party of Regions, led by their main opponent, the more Moscow-friendly Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, won more votes than any other party but only 175 seats.

An informal agreement concluded by the two parties earlier this week stipulates that Tymoshenko would be prime minister while Yushchenko's bloc would pick the parliament speaker.

A majority coalition can be officially formed once parliament convenes. The legislature has about a month to convene after publication of the results.

But while Yushchenko's statement moved the two parties closer to restoring their alliance and forming a government, Tymoshenko's victory was still not a done deal, given past friction in the Orange camp, the razor-thin majority in parliament, and the unclear position of Yanukovych.

Tymoshenko's return to the premiership would resurrect the Orange Revolution alliance that ushered Yushchenko into the presidency. Yushchenko and Tymoshenko have campaigned on promises to follow a solid pro-Western course, conduct anti-corruption reform and raise living standards.

While Yushchenko's statement was a clear sign that his party would support Tymoshenko's candidacy, there were concerns that it could take only three dissenting votes to block her from the post.

Tymoshenko vowed Wednesday that that would not happen. "We are absolutely ready to work as one strong team," she told reporters.

Yushchenko has urged his party and Tymoshenko's party to share power with the opposition as a way to unite the polarized country. Many have interpreted this an attempt to weaken Tymoshenko, his potential rival in the 2009 presidential race.

Tymoshenko's and Yushchenko's parties have offered to grant Yanukovych's party deputy ministerial posts, as well as the position of deputy prime minister and chairs of some key parliamentary committees. Yanukovych has not yet given a firm answer to that proposal.

"What the coalition will be like we will see at the first session of the Verkhovna Rada," he said Wednesday in televised comments.

Yushchenko has been locked in a power struggle with Yanukovych since the tumultuous 2004 presidential race. Yanukovych was initially declared the winner, but courts later judged that vote fraudulent, and Yushchenko won a repeat election. Their standoff reached its peak earlier this year, when Yushchenko ordered parliament dissolved and called a new vote.

Source: AP