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Ukraine: Kuchma, Symonenko Headed For Presidential Runoff

Kyiv, 1 November 1999 (RFE/RL) -- With 90 percent of the vote counted in Ukraine's presidential election, a runoff pitting incumbent Leonid Kuchma against Communist Party chief Petro Symonenko now seems certain. According to the latest results from the Electoral Commission -- based on a 90-percent vote count -- Kuchma leads with 36 percent of the vote. His nearest rival, Symonenko has 22.5 percent. With neither candidate likely to receive an overall majority, Kuchma and Symonenko are now expected to face each other in a runoff election on November 14.

Voter turnout in yesterday's election was put at nearly 70 percent of some 37 million eligible voters. The Central Election Commission said that despite allegations by the candidates, there did not appear to be any electoral violations which would affect the final result. Kuchma had campaigned on continuing with his program of market reforms and bringing Ukraine closer to the European Union. His chief rivals said his course has brought only economic decline and they advocate a return to Soviet-style economic controls and closer ties to Russia.