The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:
Ukraine's second presidential run-off election was declared "markedly more equal" by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. "Observers received fewer reports of pressure on voters, the election administration was more transparent, and the media more balanced than in the previous rounds," the O-S-C-E said.
Secretary of State Colin Powell hailed the election as "a historic moment" for Ukraine:
"We congratulate Ukrainians for the courage they displayed in standing up for their democratic rights. We call on Ukrainians now to set their divisions behind them and to refrain from violence, separatism, or provocations."
According to unofficial results, opposition candidate Viktor Yushchencko won the election by more than two-million votes. The winner cannot be declared officially until Mr. Yushchenko's opponent, former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich has exhausted all his legal remedies in the central electoral commission and before the supreme court. His campaign claims that nearly five-million people could not cast their votes because of recent changes in the election law restricting the use of mobile ballot boxes for the elderly and infirm. So far, the courts have dismissed these claims.
Ihor Popov is chairman of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, a non-partisan civic action group promoting democratic rights. He rejects Mr. Yanukovich's claims. "The third voting round is better than the two previous times and I know there were no systematic violations like previous times," said Mr. Popov.
In his New Year's address, outgoing Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma called on the country's forty-eight million people to put the bitterness of the recent election behind them and rally behind the incoming president.
Once the election results are official, the U.S. looks forward to working with Ukrainians to help them undertake political and economic reform and to advance their integration into Euro-Atlantic and global institutions. As Secretary of State Colin Powell said, "Ukrainians chose for themselves. They did not choose for the East or for the West. They have to live with both the East and the West. And let's all join together now and see what we can do to help Ukraine."