Ukraine's Orange Parties Squabble Over Coalition Leadership

KIEV, Ukraine -- The two parties at the heart of Ukraine's Orange Revolution continued squabbling Tuesday over how to form a coalition government, with Yulia Tymoshenko insisting she should be re-appointed as prime minister.

Yulia Tymoshenko at press conference

Tymoshenko, who heads her own Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko party, said her party, which won more seats in parliament than President Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine Party in March 26 elections, should be allowed to name the cabinet.

Tymoshenko said, "we will be insisting that the right to name the prime minister and the prime minister's cabinet be given to our bloc - the bloc which I head," she said at a news conference.

Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko, Our Ukraine and the Socialist Party signed a tentative agreement last week confirming their wish to form a coalition following parliamentary elections last month.

A senior Our Ukraine official reiterated Tuesday that the party is unwilling to endorse a clause in the agreement stipulating that Tymoshenko's party is empowered to name the prime minister.

Ihor Zhdanov, deputy chief of Our Ukraine's central executive committee, insisted would-be coalition members should first agree on their program and only then discuss nominations for the post.

"We believe it is necessary to form an Orange coalition, while issues on dividing up spheres of responsibility should be (discussed) only after we decide what we will be doing and how we will be doing it," Zhdanov told reporters.

Our Ukraine said on its Web site the bloc will issue a formal decision Wednesday on whether to approve last week's tentative coalition agreement.

The political party Our Ukraine, one of the six parties making up the bloc, has already rejected the clause on Tymoshenko's bloc picking the premier. This could further deepen disputes, since Tymoshenko has said the agreement will not be valid without that clause.

A reunion of the former allies whose 2004 street protests against electoral fraud propelled Yushchenko to the presidency could help cement Ukraine's pro-Western course, but it could further alienate pro-Russian southern and eastern regions.

Tymoshenko also called on Yushchenko to lead coalition talks, accusing several senior Our Ukraine officials of seeking to drag out and discredit the coalition formation process with the aim of then uniting with a rival party.

Yushchenko has stayed out of the negotiations, saying he was open for cooperation both with Tymoshenko and with the pro-Russian opposition Party of the Regions, led by his former presidential campaign rival Viktor Yanukovych, which won the most votes in the parliamentary balloting.

Yushchenko has been reluctant to see Tymoshenko return to the prime minister's job, from which he fired her last year in a bitter falling out, blaming her for erroneous policies that led to a series of crises and corruption.

Instead, Yushchenko has indicated that allying with Party of the Regions, which enjoys wide support in the country's Russian speaking east and south could help unite the country.

Source: AP