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Yushchenko Declared Ukraine's New President

Ukraine's Central Election Commission has officially declared Viktor the next president of Ukraine. The announcement ends over two months of political uncertainty in Ukraine and clears the way for the presidential inauguration.

The head of Ukraine's electoral commission, Yaroslav Davydovych, says Viktor Yushchenko swept the repeat presidential poll by just over two million votes. According to Mr. Davydovych, Mr. Yushchenko won 51 percent of the vote compared to rival Viktor Yanukovych's 44 percent.

Mr. Davydovych's announcement came just one hour before Monday's midnight deadline for officially releasing the results and was initially met by cheers among those gathered in the commission's hearing room.

But the cheers were quickly silenced by questions and complaints from Nestor Shuffrych, Mr. Yanukovych's legal representative.

Mr. Yanukovych's legal team has vowed to file yet another appeal with Ukraine's Supreme Court contesting the overall result.

Once the legal claims are exhausted, parliament is free to set a date for the inauguration. Some have said the ceremony could be set for as early as this Friday. But that date could now be delayed, given Mr. Yanukovych's plans to appeal.

Confirmation of Mr. Yushchenko's victory comes six weeks after voters first went to the polls to elect a new president to replace outgoing President Leonid Kuchma.

Kiev resident, Lena, 21, acknowledges that the weeks of political struggle have been hard. But she says, in many ways, it was also worthwhile.

Lena says the election battle has helped Ukrainians find their voice and unity as a nation. Like many other Ukrainians, Lena says she also hopes that unity will lead them into the democratic community of Western nations under Mr. Yushchenko's leadership.

He has pledged to help Ukraine gain membership in the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization over the long-term. But he says his first priority will be to free Ukraine from the stranglehold of corruption.

Mr. Yushchenko also pledged to withdraw Ukrainian troops from Iraq soon after his swearing-in ceremony. An accidental blast on Sunday in central Iraq killed eight Ukrainian soldiers and injured six others, reviving debate over the troops' deployment.

The new president will also need to find a delicate balance between serving his supporters in Ukraine's west, while not appearing to neglect the millions of people who voted for his rival in the Russian-speaking regions east and south of Kiev.