Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko claimed his victory Monday in Sunday's repeated presidential run-off while his opponent Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich refused to concede the defeat.
With 99.9 percent of the vote counted Yushchenko had secured 52.01 percent of the vote, compared with 44.18 percent for Yanukovich, according to the electoral commission.
Earlier Monday, Yushchenko claimed victory in the election, saying the nation was beginning a new political life.
"I want to say this is a victory of the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian nation," Yushchenko told reporters at his headquarters here.
"Today, in Ukraine, a new political year has begun. This is the beginning of a new epoch, the beginning of a new great democracy," he said.
Addressing later to his supporters in the Independence Square in downtown Kiev, he asked them not to leave "to defend this victory."
Yanukovich defies election results
Yanukovich, whose victory of November 21 run-off was stripped by the Supreme Court due to alleged massive fraud, refused to concede defeat, vowing to appeal to the court to the revote results.
"I will never recognize this defeat because the constitution and human rights were violated," he told a press conference.
"I intend to get the Supreme Court to review the outcome of the election and to cancel the results," he said.
He noted that 4.8 million voters, first and foremost, handicapped people and elderly people were deprived of possibility to vote on December 26.
He urged all judges of the Supreme Court to consider his appeal against election results. He said he had no confidence in the Supreme Court's civil chamber that annulled his victory.
In the mean time, Yanukovich said he did not intend to call on his supporters to go into the streets.
However, he did not rule out the possibility that his supporters could travel to Kiev by their own initiative.
Foreign observers welcome revote as fair and transparent
"It's a good election," said Larry Pressler, former US senator.
Pressler, who had monitored the revote process in Ukraine's Odessa, told Xinhua, that the workers from both Yushchenko and Yanukovich camps also monitored the vote by "taking pictures."
Bruce George, head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission, said he would be surprised if there are court appeals against the results of reelection.
"This time it is more pleasant to me to read a joint statement by observers saying the elections have approached OSCE standards and other international standards in such a short time," he told a press conference in Kiev.
"It is our judgment that the people of this great country have made a great step forward to free and fair elections by electing their future president," he noted.
Liubov Sliska, Russian Duma First vice-speaker, said the repeat second ballot was calmer than previous two ballots.
"I have a feeling that everybody was tired: voters, presidential candidates, their staffs, the CEC members. All wanted to complete the election dispute and to elect the president at last," she said.
She named campaigning on election day and poorly drawn up voter lists as among the main irregularities during the elections.
US, EU hail revote
US Secretary of State Colin Powell told a new conference here Monday "We congratulate Ukrainians for the courage they displayed in standing up for their democratic rights."
He expressed US readiness to work closely with the winner of Sunday's election as long as the election was won in a free and fair contest.
The European Union (EU) also hailed on Monday the preliminary results of the reelection, according to a press release issued by the European Commission (EC).
EC President Jose Manuel Barroso described the Sunday revote as "a good day for Ukraine and for democracy."
He also underlined the importance of the territorial integrity of the country.
Meanwhile, he stressed that the election also marks an important day for EU-Ukraine relations. The pace of the deepening of the EU's relationship with Ukraine depends on Ukraine's efforts and achievements in meeting commitments to common values and objectives.
There was no reaction from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who congratulated Yanukovich on his victory in the controversial Nov. 21 run-off but later said he have no "problems" working with Yushchenko if he wins.
Sunday's revote was the third time in eight weeks that the two rival candidates faced off in a fiercely waged presidential contest.
Yanukovich defeated Yushchenko by a narrow margin in the November 21 run-off. But Yushchenko supporters staged widespread demonstrations, protesting at what they called election fraud.
The results of the November 21 presidential run-off were then annulled by the Supreme Court, leading to the revote.
(Xinhua News Agency December 28, 2004)