Yushchenko Will Not Abandon Pro-Western Course

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine is bracing for more weeks of stalemate after three pro-Russian parties formed a governing coalition in the parliament.

President Viktor Yushchenko vowed he would not allow the new union to alter the pro-Western course he has set for the ex-Soviet nation, AFP reports.

The stunning developments late last week turned the nation’s political landscape on its head and indicated that the crisis-weary country —- still without a government following a March parliamentary poll —- faced hot summer weeks of political uncertainty.

The political earthquake in Ukraine erupted late Thursday when a key member of the “orange” coalition, the Socialists, unexpectedly defected to pro-Russian parties in order to elect its leader as parliament speaker.

Less than 24 hours later, the new allies signed an agreement to form a new governing coalition that would control 240 seats in the 450-seat Upper Rada legislature and seemed certain to slow Yushchenko’s policies of driving Ukraine toward membership in the European Union and NATO.

The coalition named Viktor Yanukovych —- the leader of the pro-Russian Regions Party who lost the bitter “orange revolution” presidential contest to Yushchenko in late 2004 —- as its choice for the new prime minister.

But the president warned that he would submit his candidacy to parliament only under certain conditions and vowed that his pro-Western policies would remain intact. “We will not veer from the chosen path,”

Yushchenko said in his weekly radio address Saturday. “Ukraine will head toward the European Union. The chosen course for foreign and domestic policy remains unchanged.”

The president said he would move on a new premier nominee only after lawmakers allowed the Constitutional Court to resume its work and if the new coalition’s program reflected his policies.

“The coalition must present for the president’s review a prime minister’s candidate,” Yushchenko said. “But I will submit it to parliament only after the Constitutional Court begins functioning again.”

Ukraine’s Constitutional Court has not been able to convene since last fall. Lawmakers have refused to appoint their allotted third of the judges on fears that Yushchenko would ask the body to review recent constitutional changes that bolstered the powers of parliament at the expense of the presidency.

If lawmakers refuse to budge, Yushchenko could refuse “to submit the name of the prime minister” to parliament and “we have early elections,” his chief of staff Oleg Rybachuk told reporters.

The president can dissolve parliament if a new government is not formed within 30 days after a governing coalition is legally registered in the legislature.

Yushchenko would likewise not move on the premier’s nomination if the new coalition’s program conflicts with his policies, Rybachuk said.

“The president will be able to present the coalition’s candidate for prime minister (to parliament) after he is convinced that the coalition will carry out a program with which the president agrees,” Rybachuk said.

Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party could join the new coalition if it excluded the Communists and mirrored the policies that the “orange” union had agreed to over three months of stormy talks, before the Socialists’ defection, Rybachuk said.

The new governing coalition is made up of the Regions Party, a pro-Russian big business blok, the Communists and the Socialists.

Ukraine’s March parliamentary election did not hand enough votes to any single party to form the next government alone. Currently Regions holds 186 seats in parliament, Yulia Tymoshenko’s bloc 129 seats, Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party 81 seats, the Socialists 33 seats and the Communists 21 seats.

Source: MosNews