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Kuchma Backs Holding New Ukrainian Poll

The outgoing president has his say (file photo) 29 November 2004 -- Outgoing Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma today publicly backed the idea of holding new elections as a way to resolve the political crisis in the country.

In remarks broadcast on television, Kuchma said that if a new ballot would help preserve "peace and consensus" across the country then Ukrainian voters should go to the polls again.

Kuchma also said that if a new election were to be held, he would not seek a third term.

Ukraine plunged into an acute political crisis after opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko challenged official returns giving his government-sponsored rival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, victory in the 21 November runoff presidential election.

The Supreme Court today started hearing opposition claims that the vote was fraudulent. No verdict is expected until 30 November at the earliest.

Also today, Yushchenko said he would ask parliament to vote a motion of no confidence in Yanukovych tomorrow.