"What I saw was quiet, well-organized and
well-directed," said Turner, who headed the 500-member Canadian Observation
Mission that monitored Sunday's voting in 17 of Ukraine's 25 regions.
"We were well-received across the country," he
told a news conference in Kyiv on Monday.
The official observer team, the largest that
Canada has ever fielded for any election, was hastily recruited and selected
from more than 4,000 applicants - many of them first-time election monitors.
They received two days of training in Ottawa and
one day of Ukraine orientation in Kyiv before being deployed in 20 groups of
20 around the country.
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress, which sent a
separate delegation of 500 observers, also released a preliminary report
Monday that concluded Ukraine's election "met essential democratic norms and
the will of the people was expressed."
With about 98 per cent of the ballots counted,
Ukraine's Central Election Commission said Monday that Yushchenko was ahead
of his Moscow-backed rival, Viktor Yanukovych, by about 52 per cent to 44
per cent of the vote.
Yushchenko, a liberal who is strongly backed by
the West, was officially defeated in the previous two election rounds that
ended last month.
But his supporters alleged fraud and poured into
the streets of Kyiv, where they paralysed Ukraine's government and captured
world attention with 17 days of continuous protest.
Two weeks ago, Ukraine's Supreme Court annulled
the previous elections and ordered a full replay on Dec. 26.
Most observer groups, including the powerful Organization for
Security and Co-operation in Europe, Canada Corps have certified the
election as meeting international standards. Russia's 900-strong observer
team, which converged on the pro-Yushchenko western Ukraine, reported Monday
that, although the elections were "not quite irreproachable," they did
generally reflect the will of the Ukrainian people. Turner said Canadian
monitors found only minor violations of proper electoral procedure. "Some
(of the infractions) were technical, some were weaknesses of human error,"
he said. "None were deliberate.
"A good many were of a kind you could find in a
Canadian constituency in an election."
Among the problems noted by Canadian observers
in a few polling stations were the presence of police near voting booths,
refusal to admit international observers, voting without proper
improperly sealed ballot boxes and incomplete
The most serious infractions witnessed by
Canadians included an election official in Chernihiv coaching people to vote
for Yanukovych and, in the eastern region of Donetsk, physical intimidation
of a voter who refused to show his marked ballot to an election official.
Nevertheless, the interim Canadian monitors'
report says "the overall impression drawn by our observers is one of
fairness." Turner said he conveyed his conclusions in a phone call to Prime
Minister Paul Martin earlier Monday. "Prime Minister Martin was happy with
this popular result and congratulated the Ukrainian people for this effort,"