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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukraine Coalition Talks to Begin

KIEV -- President Viktor Yushchenko said Wednesday that five parties had made it into the parliament and called for the beginning of coalition talks, an announcement that appeared to reflect the nail-biting uncertainty of the outcome of Sunday's pivotal elections.

Yushchenko made the announcement as a near-final tally from the vote showed his party and that of his Orange Revolution ally, Yulia Tymoshenko, tantalizingly close to forming a majority in the parliament.

Yushchenko's allies had said he would return Tymoshenko to her post as prime minister if they win a controlling majority. But with his announcement, shown on national television, Yushchenko appeared to be acknowledging the possibility that he and Tymoshenko would not be able to form a majority coalition.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 99.51 percent of the vote had been tallied, giving the party of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych 34.3 percent, followed by Tymoshenko's bloc with 30.76 percent.

The party loyal to Yushchenko trailed with 14.19 percent.

A victory for the Orange Revolution allies had been widely seen as assured, even as election officials were still counting ballots from some 200 precincts at an unusually slow pace, which raised suspicions of vote tampering.

Attention has been focused on the smaller Socialist Party, whose ability to reach the 3 percent threshold for entry into parliament has turned it into a linchpin for any new government.

Should the Socialists fail to get enough votes, the Orange forces would have at least 226 combined seats, enough to form a government.

By noon, the Socialists had 2.87 percent after sliding downward earlier in the morning.

Yushchenko said he instructed his party and those of Tymoshenko and Yanukovych, along with two other smaller parties, "to begin preliminary consultations concerning the formation of a majority in Ukrainian parliament and forming a Cabinet."

"Ukraine must emerge united following the elections; there should not be two Ukraines," Yushchenko said in a five-minute speech.

Tymoshenko already has claimed victory and has all but declared herself prime minister. Yanukovych has also declared himself the winner based on his narrow lead.