A woman holds a placard bearing pictures of jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko (R) and jailed opposition leader Yuriy Lutzenko during a rally of the opposition in front of central election commission in Kiev on November 5, 2012. Thousands of Ukrainians massed in central Kiev on November 5 to protest against alleged fraud in parliamentary elections won by the ruling party as the opposition threatened not to recognise the new legislature. At least 2,000 opposition supporters carrying Ukrainian flags gathered outside the headquarters of the central election commission amid a heavy presence of elite Berkut anti-riot police, an AFP correspondent said. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY
BRUSSELS, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Ukraine's Oct. 28 parliamentary election was marred by a delayed vote count and other irregularities, the European Union said on Monday.
The criticism by the bloc - which has frozen a trade deal with Ukraine because of concerns over the country's political and justice systems - came a day after final election results showed the ruling party would likely keep its grip on parliament.
President Viktor Yanukovich's Party of the Regions remained the biggest party in the 450-seat parliament, gaining an overall 185 seats, but was thought likely to retain control with support from communists and independents.
"We express our concern about the conduct of the post electoral process, which was marred by irregularities, delays in the vote count and lack of transparency in the electoral commissions," EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule said in a statement.
The EU comments came on top of earlier criticism of the build-up to the election and the vote itself.
Other problems alresady identified in a report by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe ranged from biased media coverage to a lack of transparency in financing.
The European Union and Ukraine initialled an agreement in March on greater political and economic integration, including trade, investment and movement of capital.
But the 27 EU governments and the European Parliament have yet to sign the accord because of concern over the former Soviet country's elections, judicial system and arrest of opposition leaders.
The election took place while the country's most prominent opposition leader, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, served a seven-year sentence for abuse of office and awaited a new trial on charges of tax evasion and embezzlement.
After opposition rallies complaining of a crooked vote count, election authorities announced a re-vote in five individual electoral districts. (Reporting By Sebastian Moffett; Editing by Andrew Heavens)