The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:
Ukraine's election commission has officially declared Viktor Yushchenko the next president of Ukraine. The head of the commission, Yaroslav Davydovych, says Mr. Yushchenko won the second presidential run-off election by just over two-million votes. According to Mr. Davydovych, Mr. Yushchenko won fifty-one percent of the vote compared to the forty-four percent won by his opponent, former prime minister Viktor Yanukovych.
A repeat of the presidential run-off election was held after the Ukrainian Supreme Court invalidated the original vote, declaring it flawed by serious irregularities. Ukraine's supreme court has now rejected complaints about the fairness of the latest balloting.
Lena, a twenty-one-year-old resident of Kiev, says the struggle for democratic freedom in Ukraine is definitely worthwhile. She says the election battle has helped Ukrainians find their voice as a nation. Lena says she hopes that president-elect Yushchenko will help bring Ukraine into the democratic community of Western countries.
During his campaign, Mr. Yushchenko pledged to help Ukraine become a member of the European Union and NATO. He also promised to root out government corruption. An immediate issue facing president-elect Yushchenko is whether to withdraw Ukraine's troops from Iraq. Outgoing president Leonid Kuchma has ordered government ministries to draw up a plan for a troop withdrawal within the next six months. But U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said this "is going to be an issue for the incoming president":
"We would certainly look to any change in Ukraine's contingent to be done in full consultation and with the multinational force in a measured way. In no way what is done in the future should in no way detract from what has been contributed in the past, which is brave and courageous service in support of a noble cause."
Mr. Ereli said that Ukraine is an important partner in the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. The U.S. values the contribution of Ukrainian troops and recognizes their sacrifice. Once Mr. Yushchenko takes office, the U.S. looks forward to working with Ukrainians on this and other issues.