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Ukraine Holds General Election Today


Voters in Ukraine are casting ballots in its first parliamentary election since the country's 2004 pro-democracy "Orange Revolution" that swept President Viktor Yushchenko to power.

The election is seen as a key test of Ukraine's commitment to democratic reforms put in place under Mr. Yushchenko, who is seeking closer ties to the West.

The president's Our Ukraine party has struggled in the last year following allegations of corruption, and a split in his government that led to the firing of his prime minister and former political ally, Yulia Timoshenko. Her bloc also is fielding candidates in today's election.

No single party is expected to have enough seats to form a government, but the party of pro-Moscow opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych is expected to make strong gains in the 450-seat legislature.

After casting his ballot, Mr. Yushchenko said he will begin talks with representatives of his former allies Monday, however analysts say he likely will have to negotiate with Mr. Yanukovych's party.

45 parties have candidates running in the election.

If parliament fails to form a coalition within 60 days, the president can call a new vote.

President Yushchenko was swept to power following weeks of peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations in Kiev to protest Ukraine's flawed 2004 presidential election, initially won by Mr. Yanukovych.

The demonstrations became known as the "Orange Revolution" because activists used Mr. Yushchenko's campaign color - orange - as a symbol of their pro-democracy movement.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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