Ukraine's Supreme Court agreed on Friday to hear an appeal of the outcome of last month's presidential election, pushing president-elect Viktor Yushchenko's inauguration into next week at the earliest.
Former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, who lost the vote by eight percentage points, has asked the court to order a new election, although he says he has no hope of success.
The court can spend up to five days considering his appeal, beginning on Monday.
"On Monday Jan. 17 at 11 a.m., the hearing will begin into the civil case filed by Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovich into the actions, omissions and decisions of the Ukrainian Central Election Commission," the court said in a statement.
Yushchenko has accused Yanukovich of "torturing the nation" with repeated challenges to the Dec. 26 vote. His staff had hoped to stage a grand inauguration this week after Yushchenko was formally declared the winner on Monday.
The inauguration can be held only after the final result is published in an official newspaper, and the Supreme Court ordered them not to print it until Yanukovich had a final chance to appeal. Yushchenko's team has grown increasingly impatient.
"We are witnessing a genuine show organized by remnants of Yanukovich's team. This show is costing Ukraine dearly," Mykola Tomenko, one of Yushchenko's top aides, wrote in a statement on the president-elect's Web site.
The statement appeared alongside a cartoon of fast food clown Ronald McDonald, apparently intended to mock Yanukovich.
Tomenko repeated accusations that the outgoing authorities were using the delay to steal state property. Yanukovich says his only interest in appealing is to safeguard voters' rights.
Yushchenko met with allies to plan his new government and promised to build a broad-based team.
"I will extend a hand to every political force in parliament and outside of parliament, and will offer to build the country together," he said on his Web site.
The Supreme Court threw out a rigged election in November that Yanukovich had won, paving the way for the repeat vote on Dec. 26 which was won by Yushchenko and which international monitors said was fair.
Yushchenko's supporters, who turned out in their hundreds of thousands to protest against the original rigged vote, have yet to dismantle a tent city in the main square in the center of the capital Kiev. On Friday, Yushchenko asked them to leave within three days.