Ukrainian President's Bloc Rejects Key Element Of Plan To Form A Coalition

KIEV, Ukraine -- President Viktor Yushchenko's bloc rejected a key element of a plan to revive the coalition that orchestrated Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution, refusing to agree to Yulia Tymoshenko's demand that she be restored to the powerful prime minister's post.

The feisty Yulia Tymoshenko

Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc, Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko and the Socialist Party signed a tentative agreement last week confirming their wish to form a coalition following last month's parliamentary election. But Our Ukraine on Wednesday refused to endorse a clause in the agreement stipulating that Tymoshenko's party is empowered to name the prime minister because her party won more votes than the other Orange forces in the March 26 election, party spokeswoman Tetyana Mokridi said Thursday.

Yushchenko fired Tymoshenko from the prime minister's job last year, blaming her for the country's economic troubles and criticizing her super-sized ambitions. Tymoshenko countered that the president was getting bad advice from advisers she accused of corruption. The two parties have been feuding ever since.

Vitaliy Chepinoga, spokesman for Tymoshenko, called Our Ukraine's decision to reject part of the protocol a "renunciation" of the talks aimed at restoring the estranged allies. But he said that it did not mean the process was over.

"It's just part of the political game; negotiations will continue," Chepinoga said Thursday.

Our Ukraine said in a statement that it remained committed to the Orange Team, but said the so-called "sixth point" regarding who picks the prime minister "breached all the logic of the protocol and the negotiation process in general." The party has insisted that first the sides must agree on their programs and only then discuss posts. The Socialists have said they support giving Tymoshenko the premier's job.

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.

The pro-Russian opposition Party of the Regions won the most votes, but failed to obtain a majority. It has been watching from the sidelines as the Orange forces try to overcome deep disagreements to reunite. Lawmakers have 30 days after they take office to form a coalition. The new parliament is expected to convene sometime around May 10th.

If they fail to form a coalition, Yushchenko, whose job was not at stake in the election, can disband parliament and call new elections.

Source: AP