International observers applaud Ukraine election

by Reuters
Monday, 26 May 2014 11:37 GMT

KIEV, May 26 (Reuters) - An international observer mission on Monday praised Ukraine for holding a presidential election it said was largely in line with international commitments and respected fundamental freedoms despite hostile activity by armed groups in the east.

"Genuine efforts were made by the electoral authorities to conduct voting throughout the country, despite continued unrest and violence in the east," the missions, led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said in a report setting out its preliminary findings.

The report decried forced closures of district election commissions by armed groups, abductions, death threats, forced entry into private homes and the seizure of equipment and election material, saying they were aimed at denying citizens their right to vote.

"The extraordinary quality of yesterday's election provides the new president of Ukraine with the legtimacy to establish immediately an inclusive dialogue with all citizens in the eastern regions, to restore their trust and confidence ..." said Andreas Gross, head of a delegation from the Council of Europe, one of the bodies leading the mission.

Confectionery tycoon Petro Poroshenko, 48, who emerged a comfortable winner from Sunday's poll, said on Monday his immediate priority would be to tackle pro-Russian separatist rebellions in the Russian-speaking east, where armed men have taken control of strategic points in two regions.

(Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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