Ukraine's president-elect, opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych, said Sunday he would not let his rival Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko remain on her post but pledged to take into account the interests of her supporters.

In line with the official results, the presidential election's second round on February 7 gave Yanukovych 48.95%, or 12,481,266 votes, while Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko garnered 45.47%, or 11,593,357 votes. A total of 4.36% voted against all.

"I will certainly take into account that 45% of Ukraine's voters supported Yulia Tymoshenko," Yanukovych told Russia's Channel One in an interview before the official results were announced Sunday, RIA Novosti reported.

When asked whether Tymoshenko could retain her post, Yanukovych said this was "unreal." "I proposed that Tymoshenko resign, and I think she will do so."

All members of the Ukrainian Central Election Commission, including five Tymoshenko representatives, signed the protocol with official results on Sunday. The Tymoshenko team can contest the results in court within five days.

Tymoshenko has accused the Yanukovych camp of vote rigging and demanded a recount of votes at over 1,000 polling stations. On Saturday she announced on her personal website that the election of Yanukovych was illegitimate and "no matter how things develop further, he will never become the legitimately elected president of Ukraine."

But Yanukovych's headquarters said all 87 lawsuits submitted to courts by the Tymoshenko camp over alleged vote rigging have been rejected.

Ukraine has been plagued by political rows since the 2005 elections.

In the past couple of years Tymoshenko, a leader of the "orange revolution" protests that overturned Yanukovych's tainted victory in 2004, openly squabbled with her former ally, outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko.

The feud badly damaged Ukraine's economy as it struggled with the global crisis, effectively forcing potential foreign creditors to hold back rescue packages because of domestic political turmoil.

Yanukovych has said Ukraine will focus on ties with Russia and other ex-Soviet states, but would also seek closer relations with the European Union and the United States.


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