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Ukrainian President Says Coalition Talks Should Begin

With less than half a percent of ballots still uncounted in Ukraine's special parliamentary election, President Viktor Yushchenko has called for the country's three leading parties to begin coalition talks. But with at least five parties factoring into any coalition, the orientation of the next Ukrainian government is difficult to predict. VOA Correspondent Peter Fedynsky reports from Kyiv.

With nearly all of the vote counted, it is clear that no party will have an outright mandate. The leading vote-getter, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's Regions Party has more than 34 percent. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's BYuT Party is second with nearly 31percent, and President Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party has slightly more than 14 percent.

The so-called Orange forces of Ms. Tymoshenko and Mr. Yuschenko are expected to form an alliance to try and cobble together a ruling coalition. But Mr. Yanukovych will also try and assemble a majority.

Speaking on national television, President Yushchenko said his country will have true political stability when the three leading parties make compromises.

He said his message to key political forces is that they must start talks to formulate basic rules of forming a parliamentary majority and government, and also build relations between the government and the opposition.

Mr. Yushchenko said the next coalition should tackle the difficult problems facing Ukraine, including creation of an economic development program that combines market forces with social justice, cancellation of parliamentary immunity for lawmakers, adoption of an anti-corruption program, and safeguarding the country's energy sector.

Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych agreed with the president's call for unity, adding that Ukraine does not need to look for enemies.

Mr. Yanukovych says Ukrainian leaders need to find allies and rally around specific issues. He is calling for the county's key political players to remember Ukraine's need to remain as one.

The so-called Orange forces of BYuT and Our Ukraine can form a majority coalition unless the Socialist party squeaks into parliament.

At this point, the Socialists are very close to the three percent minimum for entering parliament. If they break the threshold, they will deprive the Orange coalition of a majority.

This would put former speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn in the position of kingmaker. His organization, the Lytvyn Block, is assured of seats with just less-than four percent of the vote. The Communists, who distrust the Orange forces, have five percent of the vote and will most likely support Regions.

Ukrainians have coined the word koalitsiada, or coalition cavalcade, for the recent turmoil in parliament. Many in this country also say they are tired of general elections - three in as many years - and say they doubt anything will change soon.