Ukraine Orange Revolution Groups Inch Towards Govt

KIEV, Ukraine -- Liberal parties behind Ukraine's 2004 'Orange Revolution' inched towards a deal on a coalition government on Monday, with the increasing likelihood that fiery Yulia Tymoshenko will get back her job of prime minister.

Roman Bezsmertny (L), Olexander Moroz (C) and Yulia Tymoshenko (R) appearing on TV

With post-election talks on building a government in their third week, Tymoshenko met representatives of two other liberal parties to try to bridge differences after her estranged ally President Viktor Yushchenko sacked her last year.

Though the opposition Regions Party took first place, it was outscored by the combined 'orange' vote. Tymoshenko's bloc had the best score among liberals, beating pro-Western Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party and the Socialists.

'I am very pleased with the talks because the agreement proposed by our group has been approved in principle,' Tymoshenko said in a statement issued by her press service.

Tymoshenko has said previously that the agreement proposed by her party includes it choosing who becomes prime minister – almost certainly her. Yushchenko though is reluctant to have her back in that role.

On Monday, Tymoshenko was evasive when asked whether the three liberal parties had agreed on who was to be premier.

She said only that the provisions of a memorandum had been approved and would be submitted to further discussion later in the week.

Roman Bezsmertny, representing the president's party, made no commitments about the prime minister's job.

'Once we have established the first two key elements – a programme and overall principles, we will look at the principle of who assumes what responsibilities,' Internet news site Ukrainska Pravda quoted him as saying.

'The memorandum could be one way of solving this issue.'

CHOOSING THE PRIME MINISTER

Under new constitutional rules, the president's powers have been reduced at the expense of parliament, now empowered to choose a prime minister on the basis of a working majority.

Tymoshenko, backed by her electoral success, has insisted she will settle for nothing less than getting her job back – as head of the largest party in an 'orange coalition'.

She has accused Yushchenko's party of wasting time in clinching a coalition accord.

Yushchenko, no longer empowered to name the premier but still influential in the process, last week made plain his reluctance to put Tymoshenko back in the job. He said a 'system of values' had first to be agreed.

The results of last month's election were being formally declared on Monday. That starts the clock ticking on the process of forming a government under new procedures.

Parliament must convene within 30 days and a government must be formed within 60, failing which the president can dissolve the chamber.

Tymoshenko roused crowds with calls to action during weeks of protests in late 2004 that ultimately led to Yushchenko taking power after winning the re-run of a rigged election.

He immediately appointed Tymoshenko prime minister, but dismissed her less than eight months later amid squabbling and uncertainty over her attempts to control markets and calls for a broad review of dubious post-Soviet privatisations.

Observers say the president has ruled out a 'grand coalition' with the Regions Party of Viktor Yanukovich, the rival sympathetic to Moscow he humiliated in winning the 2004 presidential race.

Source: Reuters

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