Observers: Loser In Ukraine Vote Might Not Concede

KIEV, Ukraine -- The loser in Ukraine's presidential runoff election probably won't concede defeat and may turn to court battles or street protests, observers said Saturday as both campaigns accused each other of possible vote fraud.

Ukrainian opposition leader and presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych crosses himself in the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra church in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010.

Pro-Russian opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych polled 10 percentage points ahead of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in the first round of voting on Jan. 17. Most analysts say the final vote on Sunday will be closer and expect both sides to resort to legal maneuvering and demonstrations if defeat looms.

"If Yanukovych begins to feel he is losing, then he will initiate a conflict to derail the elections. Likewise, if Tymoshenko will start losing, then she will be ready to spark a conflict," said Vladimir Fesenko, director of Penta Center for Applied Political Research.

Both sides traded charges of electoral skullduggery Saturday, a day before the vote.

Yanukovych's camp alleged that Tymoshenko's supporters delivered ballots to polling stations that had incorrect numerical codes, giving officials an excuse to declare them invalid.

The election board administering the affected polling stations, however, told privately owned Channel 5 television that the discrepancy was caused by a printing error.

Tymoshenko's forces accused her rival of blocking up to 1,000 of her supporters from taking their seats on local election boards in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, a Yanukovych stronghold.

"The Party of Regions is seeking to establish absolute control in regional and district committees across the region," Tymoshenko's party said in a statement. "This reflects not only a dirty and cynical attitude toward the law and rights, but it is 100,000 times proof that Yanukovych's plan is to win the election through deception."

Tymoshenko warned that Yanukovych's campaign would block her supporters from board meetings, then use a last-minute revision in Ukraine's election law to certify bogus vote counts.

Yanukovych's camp declined to comment on the charges.

A key official with Ukraine's Central Election Commission, Andrei Magera, predicted that the losing candidate will file a complaint to the courts in an effort to undermine the results.

"I am 99 percent certain that such a complaint will be filed, and the final decision will be made in the courts," Magera said during a commission session.

Political loyalties permeate Ukraine's judicial system and both candidates could exert pressure on friendly judges.

Joao Soares, head of the observation mission from the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly, told Associated Press Television News on Saturday that the greatest difficulty in the election will be getting both candidates to accept the results.

"The major problem is to have all of the candidates (prepared for) accepting defeat, which is absolutely normal in a democracy," he said.

Tymoshenko came to power amid the 2004 pro-Western Orange protests, but her political fortunes have foundered as she tried to steer the country through stormy economic straits.

Ukraine's currency crashed in 2008, the economy sputtered and the International Monetary Fund had to step in with a $16.4 billion bailout. GDP plunged 15 percent in 2009, and according to the World Bank, Ukraine will have only anemic growth this year.

Polls open at 8:00 a.m. (0600 GMT, 1 a.m. EST) Sunday for Ukraine's 37 million registered voters.

Source: AP

Comments

Gary M said…
Nicholas,I trust you are using truthful statistics... But 47million Ukraine people and 37 million registered voters??? At what age can one vote in Ukraine? I would guess there are very few children there which might explain the numbers.I also get the thought that somehow every possible voter is(unbelievable as it seems) registered.I'd like to know how many absentee ballots are issued......That said I hope the election is open,peaceful and positive.If I were not the winner I probably would be suspicious of the results no matter what side of the fence I lived on.
Gary M said…
Nicholas,I trust you are using truthful statistics... But 47million Ukraine people and 37 million registered voters??? At what age can one vote in Ukraine? I would guess there are very few children there which might explain the numbers.I also get the thought that somehow every possible voter is(unbelievable as it seems) registered.I'd like to know how many absentee ballots are issued......That said I hope the election is open,peaceful and positive.If I were not the winner I probably would be suspicious of the results no matter what side of the fence I lived on.
Gary M said…
Nicholas,I trust you are using truthful statistics... But 47million Ukraine people and 37 million registered voters??? At what age can one vote in Ukraine? I would guess there are very few children there which might explain the numbers.I also get the thought that somehow every possible voter is(unbelievable as it seems) registered.I'd like to know how many absentee ballots are issued......That said I hope the election is open,peaceful and positive.If I were not the winner I probably would be suspicious of the results no matter what side of the fence I lived on.
Gary M said…
Nicholas,I trust you are using truthful statistics... But 47million Ukraine people and 37 million registered voters??? At what age can one vote in Ukraine? I would guess there are very few children there which might explain the numbers.I also get the thought that somehow every possible voter is(unbelievable as it seems) registered.I'd like to know how many absentee ballots are issued......That said I hope the election is open,peaceful and positive.If I were not the winner I probably would be suspicious of the results no matter what side of the fence I lived on.
Gary M said…
Nicholas,I trust you are using truthful statistics... But 47million Ukraine people and 37 million registered voters??? At what age can one vote in Ukraine? I would guess there are very few children there which might explain the numbers.I also get the thought that somehow every possible voter is(unbelievable as it seems) registered.I'd like to know how many absentee ballots are issued......That said I hope the election is open,peaceful and positive.If I were not the winner I probably would be suspicious of the results no matter what side of the fence I lived on.