The head of Ukraine's Central Election Commission (CEC), Yaroslav Davydovych, says Sunday's scheduled re-run presidential vote will go ahead as planned, despite a last minute ruling by the country's Constitutional Court declaring that a part of recent electoral law changes were unconstitutional. VOA's Lisa McAdams in Kiev has the latest:
In a press conference with reporters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, CEC chief Davydovych says Saturday's Constitutional Court ruling will in no way impede Sunday's critical presidential re-run.
Mr. Davydovych says the electoral commission will comply with the decision of the court, but he says the vote must go forward.
Ukraine's Constitutional Court has been meeting since Thursday to address complaints by supporters of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych that the recent changes to the electoral law, forged as a result of political compromise between the government and the political opposition, would deprive millions of their right to vote.
On the eve of the bitterly-contested election, the court ruled against some of the new changes to Ukraine's election law, including limits on so-called home voting to only the severely disabled. The decision means that those people who can not get to the polling stations for health reasons Sunday will still be able to vote, as long as they inform their regional election officials by Saturday evening.
Election chief Davydovych says Sunday's poll will be open and transparent and monitored by a record number of more than 12,000 international and foreign observers. The monitors have already begun fanning out across this nation whose citizens will, for the third time in as many months, return to polling stations Sunday to try and elect a new president to replace outgoing President Leonid Kuchma.
In a nationally-televised address Friday night, at the close of campaigning, President Kuchma urged the two presidential rivals to move forward in the spirit of cooperation to heal the nation's divide over the election.
Mr. Kuchma says whoever wins must reach out to the other side so that the country can move beyond the election, which he said has caused so much suffering.
Europe and the United States are watching the election with heightened interest for possible indications of Ukraine's future political course, either toward western-oriented reform, or pro-Russia authoritarianism.
Front-runner Viktor Yushchenko, of the Opposition Our Ukraine bloc, has promised to integrate Ukraine into the western community of democratic nations. Pro-Russia Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych pledges more national self-determination and says a Yushchenko win would risk exposing Ukrainians to western rule.