Ukraine Parliament Standoff Spills Out Onto Streets

KIEV, Ukraine -- Activists of Ukraine's two main political camps confronted each other in central Kiev Tuesday after parliament missed a deadline for forming a coalition government and so faced possible dissolution.


A supporter of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko shouts slogans near the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev, Ukraine

About 10,000 members of the pro-Russian Party of Regions and the rival Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc blocked the approaches to the parliament building, disrupting traffic.

Both camps were waiting for President Viktor Yushchenko to decide between disbanding the assembly or approving the majority coalition's nomination for prime minister after the deadline, marking 60 days since the legislature's first sitting, had expired at midnight Tuesday.

Elected in March, parliament has been in limbo ever since as one coalition needed to form a government collapsed to make way for a rival alliance amid accusations of treachery, bribery and in-fighting.

The Party of Regions hammered out the "anti-crisis" coalition with the Communist Party and the Socialists earlier this month, nominating its 56-year-old leader, Viktor Yanukovych, as prime minister.

Yushchenko has so far been hesitant to endorse the nomination of his arch rival, whom he defeated in a 2004 presidential rerun following protests against vote rigging that came to be known as the "orange revolution."

The president appears equally reluctant to use his power to dissolve the legislature and hold new elections, despite persistent calls to do so from Yulia Tymoshenko, his main "orange" revolution ally and first premier.

Tymoshenko, the darling of the "orange revolution" and premier-in-waiting in the first post-election coalition, formally withdrew from parliament Monday with her eponymous faction in a bid to block the rival coalition's way to power. Her West-leaning bloc holds 125 seats - almost one-third of the 450-member assembly.

On Monday, 244 MPs supported a resolution stating that if the president launched consultations on dissolving parliament, the assembly should immediately hold a plenary session "to maintain constitutional law and order in Ukraine."

Parliament Speaker Oleksandr Moroz said dissolution was an unlikely prospect. "President Viktor Yushchenko has no grounds for disbanding parliament. And I strongly believe he will not venture into risky undertakings," he said.

Source: RIA Novosti

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