Yushchenko To Parties: Sign Deal Or Face Poll

KIEV, Ukraine -- President Viktor Yushchenko, vowing to keep Ukraine from plunging into anarchy, on Saturday gave bickering politicians 10 days to form a government or face dissolution of parliament and a new parliamentary election.


Ukraine has functioned for nearly four months with neither a full-fledged government nor a working parliament after a March election produced an inconclusive result.

The chamber, disrupted by protests led by deputies both allied and opposed to the pro-Western Yushchenko, has been largely in recess amid successive rounds of coalition talks.

A three-party coalition behind the "Orange Revolution" that thrust Yushchenko into power in 2004 collapsed this month.

Formed in its place was a grouping led by the Regions Party of Viktor Yanukovich, the Moscow-backed figure Yushchenko defeated in the revolution's aftermath. But the president this week said his nomination as prime minister was unconstitutional.

In a weekly radio address, Yushchenko called for new efforts at compromise, but said he was ready to resort to dissolution.

"The president's right to dissolve parliament is his final argument, to be used if parliament and political parties fail to comprehend their responsibility before Ukraine," he said.

"As a head of state who understands the cost of such a step, I hope politicians will find the wisdom to produce a compromise by July 25.

"I will allow no anarchy or chaos. Nor will I allow actions to the advantage of those working against Ukraine's interests. I will not permit the country to be torn asunder by politicking."

Yushchenko had initially opposed dissolution, an option open to him under constitutional changes that reduced his powers.

EAST-WEST SPLIT

His chief of staff, Oleg Rybachuk, also said at the weekend that a new election was possible if no cabinet able to tackle Ukraine's longstanding divisions between the industrial Russian-speaking east and the nationalist west could be formed.

Yanukovich made a comeback after his humiliation in 2004 -- his party, which finished first in the March poll, is allied in the new prospective coalition with Socialists and Communists.

Leaders of his Regions Party say they are willing to bypass the president to secure Yanukovich's endorsement by parliament.

Lawyers say most disputes are rooted in the reforms approved during the revolution to ease tension. Yushchenko wants them put to the Constitutional Court, but the opposition has blocked nominations to the court.

Among the options now being considered by politicians is a "broad coalition" bringing together some members of the president's Our Ukraine party with Yanukovich's Regions Party.

Its advocates say this could heal rifts between the east, Yanukovich's power base, and western regions which distrust him.

Two parties still backing an "orange" coalition -- Our Ukraine and the bloc of ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko -- have been impeding parliamentary activity for a week.

Tymoshenko, who stood to be restored as premier in an "orange" team, says only a new election can solve the crisis.

"We must not under any circumstances be afraid of giving the people the right to settle this matter," she told the weekly Zerkalo Nedeli. "Our people are a lot smarter and wiser than many people give them credit for."

Source: Reuters

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