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Ukraine's Pro-Western Parties Open Coalition Talks


Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (center) talks to the media as he visits a polling station during parliamentary elections in Kyiv on October 26.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (center) talks to the media as he visits a polling station during parliamentary elections in Kyiv on October 26.

Talks are set to continue October 28 between Ukraine's pro-Western parties which early results show have won the country's parliamentary elections.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko hosted a first round of coalition talks October 27.

Presidential spokesman Svyatoslav Tseholko said Poroshenko met with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Andriy Sadovyi, the mayor of the western city of Lviv.

With more than 70 percent of the October 26 vote counted, Yatsenyuk's People's Front and Poroshenko's bloc were neck-and-neck with more than 21% of the vote each.

Poroshenko's bloc consists of his own Solidarity Party and Udar, led mayor of Kyiv and former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko.

Sadovyi's pro-European Samopomich (Self Help) party came third, with some 13 percent of the vote.

Voter turnout was just over 52 percent.

Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk are expected to publish a draft coalition agreement.

The vote came after a year of political turmoil, months of warfare against Russian-supported separatists in the east, and the annexation of Crimea by Russia.

International Reaction

International observers have given the poll a stamp of approval, while Russia said it hopes the October 26 vote will ease tension by ushering in a "constructive" government.

OSCE Says Ukraine Elections 'Free And Fair'
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Kent Harstedt, special coordinator for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, told a news conference on October 27 that the vote was "an amply contested election that offered voters real choice, and a general respect for fundamental freedoms."

He said voting and counting were transparent, election officials were impartial, and the campaign was competitive.

Harstedt added that there were some cases of intimidation and threats and that some media showed a lack of autonomy from political or corporate interests.

U.S. President Barack Obama called the elections "successful," saying the vote “represents another important milestone in Ukraine's democratic development.”

Obama called for “the quick formation of a strong, inclusive government."

Obama accused Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine and “Russian authorities occupying Crimea” of obstructing the vote.

The White House also said that Vice President Joe Biden plans to visit Ukraine next month, where he is to meet with Poroshenko.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow hopes the election leads to the formation of a government "that will be constructive, not bent on continuing to escalate confrontation in society and with Russia."

But he pointed to what he called "multiple violations" during the campaign and "forceful methods that were applied to a whole range of candidates."

He repeated the Kremlin's calls for Kyiv to engage in direct dialogue with Ukraine's regions, including those held by pro-Russian separatists.

WATCH: Sergei Lavrov On Ukrainian Elections

Lavrov: Russia Will Recognize Ukrainian Election Results
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European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso congratulated the people of Ukraine, calling the election a “victory of democracy and European reforms' agenda."

In a statement, Barroso joined European Council President Herman Van Rompuy in urging Ukrainians to forge a national consensus and step up "much needed political and economic reforms."

NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg echoed the EU's praise, saying the people of Ukraine have "clearly and democratically spoken in favor of an ambitious reform agenda and a European path."

Stoltenberg said: "An independent, sovereign and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law is key to Euro-Atlantic security."

Poroshenko said late on October 26 that voters had given "strong and irreversible backing to Ukraine's path to Europe."

He said the vote demonstrated support for "political methods" to end the conflict with pro-Russian separatists who hold swaths of eastern Ukraine after fighting that has killed more than 3,700 people since April.

Yatsenyuk, who is popular among Western governments for his support for economic reforms, said a governing coalition would have to be formed "as quickly as possible."

Three other parties were on track to clear the 5 percent threshold and enter the single-chamber Verkhovna Rada, including the Moscow-leaning Opposition Bloc, which was joined by many members of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych's defunct Party of Regions.

The Opposition Bloc had almost 10 percent, followed by populist Oleh Lyashko's Radical Party, with more than 7 percent.

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party, which was hit by the defections of leading members like Yatsenyuk, had just over 5 percent.

The Communist Party appeared on track to be shut out of the Rada for the first time since Ukraine gained independence in 1991.

The partial results include only voting by party, which is to fill half the parliament seats. The rest will go to winners of races in individual electoral districts.

Poroshenko called the snap election in a bid to set Ukraine on a new path eight months after Yanukovych was ousted following protests sparked by his refusal to sign a key deal with the European Union and his pursuit of closer ties with Russia instead.

Russia responded to Yanukovych's ouster by annexing the Crimea region in March.

Kyiv and the West also accuse Moscow of sending troops and arms to support pro-Russian rebellions that erupted in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

About 5 million voters in Crimea and in separatist-controlled areas of Luhansk and Donetsk did not take part in the elections.

Leaders of the pro-Russian insurgents in Donetsk and Luhansk regions have said they will hold elections to their so-called "people's republics" on November 2 to elect separate parliaments.

Kyiv, the United States, and several other countries have said those elections are illegitimate and will not be recognized.

Meanwhile, EU member state representatives will on October 28 review economic sanctions on Moscow for its role in the Ukrainian conflict, but officials said there was little likelihood of any change for the time being.

With reporting by Reuters, TASS, AP, and AFP
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