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Ukraine Awaits Court Decision After Agreement Reached on Election Dispute


Ukrainians are awaiting the decision of the supreme court, as judges continue their deliberations on an appeal to annul the results of the November 21 presidential runoff election. This comes after an agreement between the two rival candidates, Wednesday night.

The two presidential rivals agreed to let the court make its ruling at a meeting with international mediators, late Wednesday.

European foreign policy chief Javier Solana and the presidents of Poland and Lithuania helped broker the agreement.

If the court declares the election results invalid, the most likely scenario would be to hold a new election. However, the two sides are still far apart on exactly how that would happen.

Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko wants to hold a new runoff between himself and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who was declared the winner by the electoral commission.

But current President Leonid Kuchma insists that an entirely new election, including other candidates, would be necessary.

Critics say this will only drag out the process for several months and would be a way for the government to deny Mr. Yushchenko the presidency. He says he will reject any plan to hold another entirely new election.

The European Union's Javier Solana says the election should be held as soon as possible, to end the uncertainty that is taking its toll on Ukraine's economy.

As a concession, Mr. Yushchenko agreed that his supporters in the street will no longer block access to government buildings.

Tens of thousands of people clad in the opposition's trademark color orange have virtually shut down the center of Ukraine's capital city, Kiev, for more than a week.

The parties also agreed to work for changes in the election laws and for a plan raised earlier this year to weaken the powers of the presidency in favor of parliament - an attempt to reach a more equitable balance of power in Ukraine.

A new roundtable meeting will be held within 24 hours of the court's decision, which could come by Friday.

Whatever the final outcome of the high stakes drama, all agree that the political landscape in Ukraine is sure to change.