Ukraine's parliamentary elections are conducted in an "open and competitive environment," an observer mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said Monday.
"Despite difficult circumstances, these elections were conducted in a positive and professional manner," said Tone Tingsgaard, the vice president of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. "It is now the turn of the political forces to deliver."
The observer mission's view of Sunday's vote is potentially important to the country's political stability because a favorable assessment could undermine disappointed parties' potential to argue that the election results were flawed.
President Viktor Yushchenko called the early vote to end a standoff with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. Incomplete results indicate the parties of Yushchenko and one-time ally Yulia Tymoshenko together have enough seats to form a governing majority if they can overcome their differences and form a coalition.
The OSCE conducted the observation mission jointly with the European Parliament and the parliamentary assemblies of the Council of Europe and NATO. In all, nearly 770 observers took part.
A statement from the mission said the vote was conducted "mostly in line with international commitments and standards for democratic elections and confirm an open and competitive environment for the conduct of election processes."
It noted that voters had a diverse choice of candidates and parties and that freedoms of assembly and expression were respected.
"However, recent amendments to the election law adopted as a part of a compromise to end the political crisis, impacted negatively on the election process," the statement said.
The count was assessed positively, though procedures were not always strictly adhered to, it said.
Adrian Severin, the head of the European Parliament delegation, stressed the need for all politicians in Ukraine to respect the election results and "form a stable government which would respect the pre-electoral consensus for power-sharing between the coalition and opposition and thereby to start realizing an ambitious national reform agenda."
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Eyewitnesses said that explosions could be heard in the centre of Kyiv. Smoke was seen rising above Zhuliany Airport (Kyiv International Airport)