February 17, 2010 / 1:29 PM / 10 years ago

Court suspends Ukraine result on PM's challenge

KIEV, Feb 17 (Reuters) - A Ukrainian court suspended the official result of this month’s presidential election after agreeing on Wednesday to consider a challenge by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to Viktor Yanukovich’s narrow win.

Few commentators expect Tymoshenko to be vindicated or for the case to delay the Feb. 25 inauguration of Yanukovich, a veteran politician who was denied the top job by the 2004 “Orange Revolution” protests against electoral fraud.

The Supreme Administrative Court is expected to issue its ruling by the end of the week.

Tymoshenko, personally lodging her complaint with the court on Tuesday, repeated her claims that Yanukovich’s supporters cheated at several hundred polling stations, robbing her of victory in the Feb. 7 election.

Yanukovich and his Regions Party have brushed off the allegations.

The court said the official result of the election was suspended pending its review of Tymoshenko’s complaint. It could have dismissed her allegations without a review of the case.

Political analysts have said Tymoshenko’s challenge aims to undermine the legitimacy of Yanukovich, whose victory margin of around 890,000 votes compares to an electorate of 25.5 million.

Although the court case is not expected to delay the inauguration, Ukraine faces a tough few weeks, if not months, as a new political order takes shape.

Yanukovich’s supporters in parliament are trying to win over parties to form a new coalition and, if they succeed, a vote of no confidence in Tymoshenko’s government is expected.

Tymoshenko has urged her backers in parliament to hold their nerve. Her governing coalition has a slender majority and relies on supporters of her ally-turned-rival, outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko, for a majority.

Investors hope the coalition horsetrading will last only weeks and result in a stable government capable of bringing back International Monetary Fund lending — suspended, while the economy suffered its worst recession in 15 years, over broken spending promises. (Writing by Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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