Ukraine Leaders Fail Again To Set Poll Date

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko and his rival, the prime minister, failed after fresh negotiations on Monday to set a date for an early parliamentary election to break months of political deadlock.

The never-ending saga continues with Yushchenko's (L) favorite round-table discussions once again accomplishing nothing.

No statement was issued after more than five hours of talks at the president's offices between Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, his opponent from the 2004 "Orange Revolution" who is closer to Moscow in outlook.

Negotiating teams had suggested at the weekend that the two sides would produce an agreement on Monday on legislation to be approved by parliament for the snap poll to proceed.

The two men, long at odds over a division of powers, have met several times since Yushchenko issued two decrees last month to dissolve parliament and call an election to the assembly.

The prime minister initially ignored the decrees and asked the Constitutional Court for an assessment. Both men pledged for a time to abide by any ruling and later agreed to hold a poll -- though they remain divided over when it should take place.

The president's second decree set a date of June 24 and he wants a vote as soon as possible. The prime minister says it is impractical to hold the poll before autumn and most commentators say the most likely date is now in September.

The Constitutional Court began examining the legality of the second decree on Monday, but Yushchenko has made plain he no longer has any intention of recognizing any ruling it may issue.

Another of the court's 18 judges resigned on Monday, four days after its chairman stepped down. The president has dismissed three judges on grounds that they violated their oath.

Yushchenko beat Yanukovich in a rerun of a rigged 2004 presidential election after weeks of rallies and has promoted NATO and European Union membership and liberal economics.

Thousands of the prime minister's supporters gathered in Kiev on Monday, the latest of a series of gatherings meant to recreate the atmosphere of 2004. But rallies have been relatively small and lacking in resolve.

Source: Reuters

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