Ukraine's Yushchenko Urges Parties To Accelerate Coalition Talks

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko called on the parties engaged in coalition talks to work harder to reach agreement between themselves, his spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The potential "Orange" coalition

Yushchenko's party has said that it wants to reunite with its 2004 Orange Revolution allies - the bloc of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and the Socialists – to keep Ukraine on its reformist, pro-Western path.

However, the talks have not yet produced a deal, largely because of deep-seated mutual distrust between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko, whom he fired as prime minister in September.

Iryna Gerashchenko, the president's spokeswoman, said the president remained optimistic that an agreement would be reached by month's end.

Yushchenko would like to host a meeting between the three parties next week, but only on condition they have agreed on a single draft coalition agreement.

"He thinks that each of their documents has rational and important aspects, but a future coalition needs them to come out with a single document and then bring this to the president," Gerashchenko said.

Talks began seven weeks ago after no party won a majority in the March 26 parliamentary election. On Tuesday, Yushchenko's party announced that it was taking a time-out, accusing its partners of issuing ultimatums over jobs in the new government.

But the party's spokeswoman Tetyana Mokridi insisted Wednesday that it hasn't interrupted coalition-building efforts.

One of the main stumbling blocks has been Tymoshenko's demand that she be returned to the prime minister's job. Her party received more votes than any of its other coalition partners, which she says entitles her to the job.

Meanwhile, Viktor Yanukovych, who leads the pro-Russian opposition party that won the most votes in the election, criticized Tymoshenko's insistence that his party only receive low-level jobs in the new government, saying Wednesday that the Party of Regions must receive senior posts.

"We are the party that won the parliamentary elections, and we believe that the creation of effective government control without considering the opinion of nearly half the voters is impossible," Yanukovych said. His party won just over 32 percent of the vote.

Source: AP