Ukraine's Former Premier Says New PM Illegitimate, Calls For Dissolving Parliament

KIEV, Ukraine -- Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Monday called Ukraine's new premier illegitimate and demanded the dismissal of parliament — suggesting she plans to lead her main opposition party in a tough political fight.

Tymoshenko, whose fiery speeches helped make her a leader of the 2004 Orange Revolution, cited a law passed last year that forbids anyone to hold a lawmaker's seat and a seat in government simultaneously.

Viktor Yanukovych submitted paperwork to give up his lawmaker's seat immediately after he was named prime minister in August. But parliament then broke for the summer, and the matter has not yet been taken up.

Yanukovych's office said the premier had no intention of holding both seats simultaneously.

Yanukovych, whose fraud-marred bid for the presidency sparked the Orange Revolution mass protests, put together a majority coalition after an agreement between Tymoshenko and her former Orange Revolution allies broke apart. Yanukovych's party won the most votes in a March parliamentary election.

The coalition nominated Yanukovych to be premier, and President Viktor Yushchenko agreed to it, after making Yanukovych pledge to uphold the country's democratic advances and continue his pro-Western policies.

Tymoshenko, who had hoped to return to the premier's job, has called Yanukovych's premiership a betrayal.

"God has put in the president's hands one more chance to save Ukraine," Tymoshenko said. "I hope that this time, the president will use this chance."

Tymoshenko said the law, passed with the support of Yanukovych's Party last year, stipulates that Yanukovych had 20 days to give up his lawmaker's seat, and those 20 days passed Aug. 25. That should automatically trigger the ouster of Yanukovych from the premier's job, she said.

The matter is unlikely to lead to Yanukovych's dismissal, but it does represent the first volley in what analysts predicted could be another tense political season.

Parliament Speaker Oleksandr Moroz said lawmakers would deal with the issue next week, noting that it would have happened earlier if parliament had been in session.

Source: AP