(photo credit: Associated Press)
Ukraine's Central Election Commission named Viktor Yanukovych the official winner of the presidential elections Sunday, thwarting Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's hopes of overturning the vote.
Tymoshenko's last recourse is now with the courts. The election commission also dismissed all of her complaints of fraud and misconduct during the Feb. 7 ballot.
The commission said Yanukovych garnered nearly 888,000 more votes than Tymoshenko, defeating her by 3.5 percentage points.
"The commission names Yanukovych the winner," Chairman Volodymyr Shapoval said to applause from the officials gathered in the chamber. "This applause is for the newly elected president."
After six days of silence on the election, Tymoshenko said in a televised appeal Saturday that the vote had been rigged and she would challenge the results in court.
The commission hurried to tally the final results, announcing them three days ahead of the Feb. 17 deadline even as complaints of fraud poured in from Tymoshenko's staff.
One of Tymoshenko's representatives on the election body, Zhanna Usenko-Chorna, refused to read out the results from her districts, forcing a commission secretary to read them out in her place.
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Tymoshenko asked Ukrainians to support her legal battle to overturn the elections,but urged them not to take to the streets in protest as demonstrations would destabilize the country.
Tymoshenko helped lead the 2004 mass street protests against
Yanukovych's election victory that year. Dubbed the Orange Revolution,
those demonstrations paved the way for a court-ordered rerun, which was
won by Tymoshenko's ally, Viktor Yushchenko.
But the vicious antagonism which quickly erupted between Yushchenko and
Tymoshenko paralyzed the government, worsening Ukraine's economic woes
and helping Yanukovych mount a comeback.
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