KIEV, Ukraine, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- The Ukrainian candidate, whom tens of thousands of protesters hailed as the winner of the presidential election, Tuesday proclaimed himself the president.
Viktor Yushchenko, whom the government said lost a runoff election against the incumbent's hand-picked candidate, took an oath of office in Parliament, even though the speaker and a number of lawmakers had left, Itar-Tass reported.
At that time, 191 lawmakers were present. The quorum requires the presence of 226 legislators.
"We are rapidly backsliding toward an uncontrolled massive conflict with an unpredictable outcome," said Vladimir Litvin, speaker of the Parliament.
"Emotions should be curbed and negotiations begun in order to secure bloodless developments," said the parliamentary speaker.
Meanwhile, outside anti-government protesters rallied for a second day Tuesday against purported results of the runoff between Yushchenko and Viktor F. Yanukovich, the incumbent's choice.
With more than 99 percent of ballots counted, the government announced Yanukovich had beaten Yushchenko 49.42 to 46.7 percent.
The demonstration underscores how bitterly divisive is the key issue at stake in the election: whether to move the overwhelmingly Slavic country closer to Russia, as the incumbent has been doing, or turn toward greater economic and military integration with Europe, as Yushchenko wants to do.