Outgoing Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has urged the nation to support the newly-elected president -- opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

In a New Year's message Friday, Mr. Kuchma asked Ukrainians to, in his words, "accept the democratic choice," without specifically naming Mr. Yushchenko.

Mr. Kuchma's plea came as Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych resigned following his defeat in last Sunday's presidential run-off against Mr. Yushchenko. The prime minister quit his post one day after the Supreme Court and Central Election Commission both rejected his request to review the election results.

Mr. Yanukovych has not conceded defeat despite final results, which have yet to be certified, showing Mr. Yushchenko won the election by some 10 percentage points.

For his part, Mr. Yushchenko predicted 2005 will bring Ukrainians independence and freedom, and said his New Year's wish for Ukraine is national solidarity.