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Supporters of Rival Candidates in Ukraine to Meet

Demands for a new runoff vote in Ukraine are growing, after Parliament voted Saturday to declare the results of last Sunday's presidential election invalid. Outgoing President Leonid Kuchma has said that a compromise must be found to end the crisis, while supporters of the two rival candidates held new rallies.

Supporters of opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko say holding another election is the only way to resolve the political crisis that has engulfed Ukraine since the disputed election one week ago.

Mr. Yushchenko has proposed holding the vote on December 12, and insists that balloting would have to be overseen by "honest officials" to prevent fraud.

The outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma, in a televised speech, called for a compromise as the only solution to the current crisis.

Mr. Yushchenko got a big boost in his demand for new elections on Saturday, when parliament declared the previous vote invalid, and passed a vote of no-confidence in the Central Election Commission, which declared Russian-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich the winner.

The parliament's vote is not legally binding, but it clearly demonstrates the level of dissatisfaction in the way the previous vote was handled.

The next focus in the electoral crisis comes on Monday when Ukraine's Supreme Court begins hearing the opposition's claim that the election was fraudulent.

Meanwhile, Mr. Yanukovich has attended a meeting in his stronghold in largely Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine where officials say they will seek autonomy if Mr. Yushchenko becomes president. This would escalate the political crisis to a new level.

The pro-Western Mr. Yushchenko said Sunday the heads of the pro-Russian eastern and southern regions who are threatening to declare autonomy should be prosecuted.

Ukraine's electoral crisis has met with vastly different reactions from Russia and most of the world community. The United States, European Union and many other nations say they cannot accept Mr. Yanukovich's win, without a serious review of charges the election was rigged in his favor.

Russia has angrily accused the West of what it calls "meddling" in Ukraine's internal affairs. President Vladimir Putin himself openly backed Mr. Yanukovich during the election campaign.