Ukraine's parliament passed a vote of no-confidence yesterday, bringing down Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's government as international mediators gathered in Kiev to seek a way out of the spiraling political crisis.
In what appeared to be an attempt to seize the political initiative back from the opposition, Yanukovych appealed to the Supreme Court to declare the results of the Nov. 21 presidential runoff elections invalid, the justices said.
Official results had declared Yanukovych the winner. His appeal focuses on alleged violations in western Ukraine, where opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko draws most of his support. It was not clear if the court would agree to hear the appeal.
The court is currently hearing an appeal by Yushchenko, who claims election fraud robbed him of victory. His court case focuses on alleged violations in pro-Yanukovych eastern Ukraine.
The parliamentary no-confidence vote, with 229 in favor -- three more than necessary in the 450-seat parliament -- came minutes after the chamber's first attempt to pass the measure failed to garner enough support.
Yushchenko's supporters, listening to a live broadcast outside, broke into applause, chanting "Yushchenko!" and raising their fists in triumph.
Outgoing President Leonid Kuchma called the no-confidence vote "parliament's answer to the worsening political situation in Ukraine," said his spokeswoman Olena Hromnitskaya.
She said the president "will act within the framework of the Constitution."
The vote automatically triggers the resignation of Yanukovych's government, which Kuchma must accept. Kuchma can, however, allow the government to continue to exercise its powers until a new Cabinet is formed, but not for longer than 60 days.
Kuchma is expected to appoint a caretaker government, likely to be headed by parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, said Markian Bilynskyj, a Kiev-based analyst.
As Ukraine's politicians staked out their positions, international mediators, including European Union envoys Javier Solana and Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, renewed efforts to defuse the crisis.
"The problem can be solved only under one condition: good will from both sides, without any offenses, allegations, complaints or accusations," Kuchma said.
The mediators met with Kuchma later Wednesday, and the two candidates were expected to join the group later.
Earlier, Kuchma -- who backed Yanukovych in the presidential campaign -- announced he supported holding an entire new election, not just a re-vote of the disputed second round.