Yushchenko Party Accused Of Stalling

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko has faced charges his party was stalling coalition talks with pro-Western allies after the country's parliamentary elections.

Ukraine's President Yushchenko

Meanwhile, the pro-Russian opposition said it was ready to strike a deal with the president's bloc.

A draft coalition agreement submitted by Mr Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc to its "orange revolution" allies this week "puts us all back two months and in effect is an attempt to drag out the process and win time", Socialist leader Olexander Moroz said today during a session of the outgoing parliament.

The Socialists, who are due to get 33 seats in the 450-member Upper Rada legislature following a March 26 ballot, backed Mr Yushchenko during the "orange revolution" and their participation is key to creating a coalition between the estranged participants in the pro-Western 2004 revolt.

These include Our Ukraine, which is due to get 81 seats in the new chamber, and the bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko, which is due to receive 129 seats.

The fiery Ms Tymoshenko split with the Ukrainian president after he fired her as premier six months ago and dealt him a humiliating blow when her bloc drubbed his in the recent legislative ballot.

The key stumbling bloc in the negotiations between the former allies is Ms Tymoshenko's demand that she regain the premiership.

Mr Yushchenko is widely believed to distrust Ms Tymoshenko and to be wary of the ambitious and charismatic politician regaining a post that will have expanded powers under constitutional changes that entered into force this year.

The Ukrainian leader has been under pressure from supporters at home and abroad to reunite with Ms Tymoshenko after the pro-Russian opposition Regions Party grabbed first place and an expected 186 seats in the new parliament after the election.

Pundits in Kiev say Mr Yushchenko is playing for time as he gropes for ways to join up with Ms Tymoshenko, but keep her out of the premiership.

Meanwhile Regions, led by ex-premier Viktor Yanukovych who was kept from power during the "orange revolution", said they were ready to strike a deal with the president's party.

"Everything is leading to a coalition between Our Ukraine and Regions," top party official Taras Chornovil was quoted as saying in an interview.

"We have clearly shown that we are ready to work in a coalition and for serious talks and compromises," he said.

As no party secured enough votes to get half the seats in the Upper Rada, and as Ms Tymoshenko has ruled out joining forces with Mr Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president is the king-maker, deciding with which of his political foes to unite to form the next government.

Separately, the outgoing parliament failed to pass a resolution to call on the central election commission to recount all ballots from the March 26 poll.

Several parties that failed to garner the three per cent of the national vote needed to get into the chamber have been calling for a recount.

Source: AFP