International brief ~ OSCE says Ukrainian run-off election falls short of international standards; opposition claims fraud

[JURIST] Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych is officially in the lead after Sunday's run-off presidential election in Ukraine, but opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko, supported by outgoing President Leonid Kuchma, has alleged massive fraud in vote counting and voter turnout in heavily pro-government regions. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had international election monitors present at the weekend vote; Bruce George, head of the monitors, announced Monday afternoon that the election "did not meet a considerable number of international standards for democratic elections." Yushchenko, ahead in the exit polls with 54%, has disputed the official count that gave him only 46% of the vote, and has assembled nearly fifty thousand supporters to protest the results in the streets of Kiev. Read the official OSCE press release here and the OSCE Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions here [PDF]. ISN has more.... UN special representative to Sudan Jan Pronk announced Sunday that the Security Council has finalized plans to introduce a 7,000 member peacekeeping force into the southern Darfur region. The troops are scheduled to be inserted shortly after the planned January signing of a peace agreement between the government in Khartoum and the leaders of the southern rebel factions. The initial deployment will be followed by an increase in troop numbers six months after the signing. Pronk also announced that the UN aid offices that had been set up in neighboring countries due to the strife in Sudan would be closed and reopened six months later in southern Sudan itself. JURIST's Paper Chase has background on the Sudan conflict. The Sudan Tribune has more.... 5000 more troops from India and Pakistan arrived Monday in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, bringing the total UN Peacekeeping force there up to 15,000. The increase makes the DRC mission the most extensive peacekeeping operation in the world and signifies the recognition by UN officials that they may have taken on more than they can handle. Over 3 million have died from war or war-related causes in the last five years. The country has not internal civil structure, and one UN official said that it would take a miracle to pass the next six months until the scheduled elections without another outbreak in violence. UN Security Council ambassadors are currently visiting the war-torn country to reassess its needs. BBC News has more.... Asif Zardari, husband of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was granted bail Monday by the Pakistan Supreme Court in the amount of 1 million rupees and could soon be free, pending trial. Zardari has been in jail since 1996 on corruption and conspiracy to commit murder charges; Zardari had previously been granted bail on all other charges. The Pakistani government announced that it will honor the Supreme Court's decision and will release Zardari as soon as the security bonds are deposited. It emphasized however, that the charges for corruption and conspiracy to commit murder still stand. The Pakistani Tribune has more.



 

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