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YUSHCHENKO OFFICIALLY DECLARED UKRAINE'S PRESIDENT-ELECT... The Central Election Commission announced officially on 10 January that Viktor Yushchenko won the 26 December repeat of the late-November presidential runoff in Ukraine with 51.99 percent of the vote (15.1 million voters) versus Viktor Yanukovych's 44.2 percent (12.8 million voters), Ukrainian media reported. Turnout was 77 percent. Yushchenko won in Kyiv and 16 western and central regions, while Yanukovych won in Sevastopol and nine eastern and southern regions. The official results of the vote need to be published in two official newspapers, "Holos Ukrayiny" and "Uryadovyy Kuryer," to become irreversible. JM
...AS YANUKOVYCH REFUSES TO ACCEPT DEFEAT. Presidential also-ran Yanukovych told journalists in Kyiv on 11 January that he will never accept the officially announced results of the 26 December runoff, Interfax reported. Yanukovych vowed to appeal the results with the Supreme Court and, if that appeal fails, to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Yanukovych has claimed the repeat poll confirmed the results in the second round on 21 November, when the Central Election Commission at the time awarded him victory with 15.1 million votes versus Yushchenko's 14.2 million votes. Yanukovych claims that the current result in favor of Yushchenko reflects what he sees as unconstitutional amendments to the election law passed hastily by the Verkhovna Rada on 8 December in order to limit voting from home (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 December 2004). Yanukovych's proxy, lawmaker Nestor Shufrych, announced on 10 January that Yanukovych's election staff will appeal the official results of the latest vote with the Supreme Court while employing a "respected Swiss law firm." The potential appeal, although widely regarded as unlikely to succeed, could postpone Yushchenko's inauguration. JM
OUTGOING PRESIDENT MOVES TO WITHDRAW UKRAINIAN TROOPS FROM IRAQ. Lame duck President Leonid Kuchma on 10 January ordered Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko and Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk to begin immediate planning for a withdrawal of the 1,600-strong Ukrainian contingent from Iraq in the first half of 2005, Ukrainian media reported, quoting Kuzmuk. Kuchma's order appears to be a direct response to a bomb explosion that killed eight and injured six Ukrainian soldiers in Iraq on 9 January (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 January 2005). The Verkhovna Rada on 11 January passed a resolution reiterating its decision of 3 December to pull Ukrainian troops out of Iraq (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 December 2004), and President-elect Yushchenko has also vowed to bring the Ukrainian soldiers home. JM
ALBANIA GETS ELECTORAL REFORM LAW. Ninety-nine of the 140 members of Albania's parliament voted on 10 January in favor of an electoral reform package drafted with OSCE help and aimed at eliminating past irregularities in preparing voters' lists, counting votes, and determining electoral districts, Reuters reported. Members of the opposition Democratic Party and the Socialist Integration Movement of former Prime Minister Ilir Meta, who split from the ruling Socialists, have promised to launch Ukrainian-style protests if they feel that Prime Minister Fatos Nano is trying to steal the mid-2005 elections. PM