Talks On Ending Ukraine's Political Standoff Suspended

KIEV, Ukraine -- Talks on ending a standoff between Ukraine's top opposition party and members of the parliamentary majority coalition have been suspended indefinitely, a spokeswoman for President Viktor Yushchenko said Wednesday.

Raisa Bohatyreva

The standoff began last week, when deputies of the opposition Party of Regions began blocking the podium of parliament, preventing legislators from voting on forming a new government.

The new parliament was elected in late March, but a series of disputes and negotiations have obstructed forming a government.

Coalition and Party of Regions members held talks Tuesday on resolving the standoff, but Yushchenko spokeswoman Larysa Mudrak said talks were suspended indefinitely on Wednesday. She did not give a reason.

Raisa Bohatyreva of the Party of Regions said the coalition "doesn't know the answer to the question" about how key parliamentary committee seats will be divided.

The party contends the coalition was trying to freeze it out of key committee positions.

The Party of Regions won the largest share of votes in the March election, but fell short of a majority. The majority coalition came together after long negotiations between Yushchenko's party and two others.

It is widely referred to as the Orange Coalition because the parties were central to the 2004 "Orange Revolution," the protests that broke out after a fraudulent presidential election and that helped force a rerun that Yushchenko won.

The Party of the Regions also objects to a coalition proposal to hold the votes on the prime minister and the parliamentary speaker on a single ballot - in violation of parliamentary rules.

The Party of Regions is led by Viktor Yanukovych, whom the official count gave the most votes in the disputed presidential election that set off the Orange Revolution protests.

Source: AP