Ukraine's Yushchenko Chairs Crisis Talks, No Deal

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's President Yushchenko backed away from a threat to dissolve parliament at crisis talks with his opponents on Thursday but there was no sign of an imminent deal on forming a new government.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko speaks during the round table meeting in Kiev, July 27, 2006

Ukraine has been in political turmoil and without a fully fledged cabinet for four months as rival parties try to clinch a coalition deal and form a government following an inconclusive parliamentary poll in March.

Yushchenko faces a dilemma: to dissolve parliament or bow to his opponents and nominate his old rival Viktor Yanukovich -- the man he defeated in the 2004 "Orange Revolution" -- as prime minister.

"We have moved further away from a dissolution of parliament and closer to creating a coalition," Roman Zvarych, a senior member of Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party, said at the marathon talks in the Marinsky Palace presidential residence.

But the party leaders who took part in the six hours of negotiations -- shown live on television -- appeared a long way from agreeing on what shape that coalition should take.

Yanukovich, who controls a slim majority in parliament, is proposing a government that he would head and would include his Regions party and his allies the Socialists and Communists. He has invited Our Ukraine to join as a fourth partner.

Yushchenko's supporters are pushing for a "coalition of national unity" that would include Our Ukraine, the Regions party and others but would exclude the Communists. Yanukovich has rejected that option.

The party leaders and Yushchenko spent the six hours discussing topics including the Ukrainian language, religious unity and democracy.

They plan to boil the discussion down into a declaration of principles which may be signed after further talks on Friday.

Source: Reuters

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