Ukraine President Faces PM Choice

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko is facing one of his most difficult challenges since he was brought to power by mass protests in 2004.

By the end of Wednesday he must decide whether to endorse the nomination of his arch rival for prime minister.

Talks are also due to continue about drawing together the president's party and its opponents in a coalition.

If the deadlock is not resolved, the president has the power to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections.

Ukraine has been in political turmoil since a parliamentary ballot in March in which no party won a majority.


A coalition of the pro-western parties which backed the Orange Revolution - the protests that brought Mr Yushchenko to power - collapsed before it could form a government.

It was replaced by a coalition which favours closer ties with Russia.

Its leader is Viktor Yanukovych, the disgraced loser of the presidential election in which claims of mass vote rigging sparked the popular uprising.

Mr Yanukovych has been chosen to be prime minister by his coalition.

The president has until the end of Wednesday to approve this, but to do so would be a humiliation.

It is not clear whether the president has the right to reject the nomination.

Over the last few days there have been intense talks about the possibility of the president's party joining the coalition.

President Yushchenko has also been holding discussions with Ukraine's political leaders to try to negotiate an agreement of national unity.

He wants his rivals to commit to a pro-Western agenda.

If a compromise cannot be reached, then the president has threatened to order new elections, but this option is considered to be a last resort.

Source: BBC News