Ukrainian Opposition Blocks Parliament

KIEV, Ukraine - Ukraine's opposition party prevented members of a newly formed ruling coalition from taking their seats in parliament Thursday, stopping a vote on returning ousted Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to her former job.

Viktor Yanukovych (C) said his party is prepared to block parliament for another 30 days

The country's pro-Western, reformist parties agreed June 21 to form a coalition government that would return Tymoshenko to the post and reunite the three parties that led the 2004 Orange Revolution. The deal shut out lawmakers from the pro-Russian Party of Regions, which got the most votes in March parliamentary elections.

Ukraine's political life has been paralyzed since the election ended without a decisive victory, throwing this country into coalition talks. Those talks ended only last week after the estranged Orange Revolution parties agreed to try again to work together.

For a second day, Party of Regions lawmakers took over the speaker's seat and seats meant for government members to prevent coalition lawmakers from convening and voting on Tymoshenko and Petro Petroshenko for speaker.

President Viktor Yushchenko later urged political parties to "urgently" sit down for negotiations and he criticized lawmakers, saying they were "forgetting about 48 million people."

"There is a good opportunity now to understand that democracy is advantageous for all — for those who won and those who lost," he said. "But democracy can function only when there exists a respect for the law and rules."

In September, Yushchenko dismissed Tymoshenko and accepted Poroshenko's resignation as security chief after the two turned on each other with accusations of corruption and incompetence.

The Regions group pledged to keep parliament shut down indefinitely to push demands it get chairmanships of key committees. The coalition is considering giving the Party of Regions mostly deputy chairmanships.

The Party of Regions, led by Viktor Yanukovych — Yushchenko's 2004 election rival — said it objects to the coalition's proposal to combine the votes for the prime minister and the parliamentary speaker into a single ballot.

"We will block parliament till the Orange (parties) agree to live and work according to laws and the constitution of the state," Yanukovych said.

Source: AP