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Ukraine Anticipates Final Official Results of Presidential Re-Run

Ukraine's Central Election Commission (CEC) has said it expects to announce the final, official results of the December 26 re-run presidential election early this week. That could clear the way for the swearing-in of the new president within days.

Ukraine's election saga and political uncertainty over the past two months may be nearing an end this week, with the CEC's expected announcement of a winner as early as Monday.

The head of the commission, Yaroslav Davydovych, says he expects the final results to be virtually identical to the first results. They gave pro-reform opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko the win by more than two million votes over Viktor Yanukovych, who advocated continued close ties with Russia.

The election commission had said it was ready to announce the final, official results of the bitterly-contested presidential re-run late last week, but a last minute legal challenge by Mr. Yanukovych scuttled the announcement. The Orthodox Christmas holiday followed, putting talk of politics aside.

Mr. Yanukovych could still file one more legal appeal with the Supreme Court over the final results. But many analysts believe the court might not even agree to consider such an appeal, given that all his other legal challenges have been rejected.

Once the appeals process is exhausted and the final results have been announced, Ukraine's parliament, or Rada, is free to set a date for the inauguration. The date most widely discussed is Friday, January 14 or the New Year under the [Julian] calendar Orthodox believers follow.

This middle age Kiev resident, named Larissa, says she definitely plans to attend.

Larissa says the inauguration means an end to any doubts that opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko is Ukraine's new President.

According to tradition, the winner, which appears to be Mr. Yushchenko, will take the official oath of office in parliament. Later, he is to hold a mass public inauguration on Kiev's Central Square, which was the scene of street protests against his opponent following the controversial first runoff vote. Tens-of-thousands of Mr. Yushchenko's supporters are expected to turn-out for the ceremony.