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Ukrainian Deputies Discuss Disputed Election

Yushchenko supporters rallying near the parliament 23 November 2004 -- Ukraine's parliament has convened an emergency session to discuss the opposition's push to annul results of the presidential election, as tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered outside.

Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko wants parliament to take up a nonbinding vote of no-confidence in the Central Election Commission and call for official results showing his defeat to be nullified.

"I hope that in the parliament, we will find deputies, 226 deputies, who will raise their hands and say that what the Central Election Commission did and what its local branches did, was a betrayal of their oath of office," Yushchenko said.

The number of cities rejecting the official results has risen to six.

Earlier today, Yushchenko called on supporters gathered in Kyiv's central square to march on parliament to protest official results from the runoff election.

"I ask you to peacefully and in an organized manner...start marching to the Ukrainian parliament. Glory to Ukraine. Glory to each and every one of you," Yushchenko said.

Fraud Allegations

With 99 percent of the vote counted, Yanukovych has a nearly 3 percent lead over Yushchenko despite several exit polls showing Yushchenko had won. The Central Election Commission announced yesterday that Yanukovych is ahead of Yushchenko with nearly all the votes counted.

Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said the runoff fell far short of European democratic norms. The official observer from the United States, Senator Richard Lugar, said there had been "concerted and forceful" fraud and the European Union called on Ukraine to review the election. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Yanukovych on his victory.

Yuliya Tymoshenko, a Yushchenko ally, says that if the parliament doesn't take action to solve the crisis, the opposition has no choice but to block roads, airports, and seize city halls.

Yushchenko has pledged a campaign of mass street protests to overturn the election results. Authorities say any lawlessness will be quickly put down.

Last night, activists spent the night in a tent camp on Khreshchatyk, Kyiv's main street.

Yanukovych has warned he has no intention of working with "individual politicians who call people to the barricades."



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