Ukraine Opposition Head Tymoshenko Hails Early Poll

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's main opposition leader, former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, said on Saturday a deal to hold a snap parliamentary election proved the ex-Soviet state could solve its problems peacefully and press on with reforms.

Yulia Tymoshenko

But Tymoshenko, the most ardent advocate of a new election, said "orange" groups backing President Viktor Yushchenko would run separately in the coming poll as a tactic to amass more votes.

The pro-Western Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, his arch-rival from the 2004 "Orange Revolution," agreed on Friday after months of rows over sharing powers to hold the new election. No date has yet been set.

A "working group" of experts began drafting details of the election process to be submitted to parliament early next week.

Tymoshenko roused crowds in the peaceful rallies which swept the president to power in 2004 after a deal was struck, with the help of international mediators, to rerun a rigged election. She served as his prime minister before the two fell out for a time.

"Ukraine has again proved to be an example of how to end a crisis strictly through our own political means, without outside interference or pressure," Tymoshenko told a news conference.

"An early election gives Ukraine the chance to proceed along the path of renewal."

Tymoshenko predicted the poll would "significantly change" the make-up of parliament, now dominated by allies of the prime minister, closer to Moscow in outlook. She said surveys proved that liberal groups, like her own bloc, should run separately.


"There is a single goal in doing this," she said. "We must draw large numbers of people towards the democratic position and make them members of a democratic team."

The 2004 revolution united "orange" groups, but Tymoshenko's eight months in office were marked by rows that split her government into rival camps. Divisions prevented the formation of a new "orange" government after last year's parliamentary election, allowing Yanukovich to become prime minister.

The president issued two decrees in April dissolving parliament and calling an election for April 24. Yanukovich had rejected the moves, but agreed in the end on grounds that compromise would spare Ukraine political and economic turmoil.

Yushchenko described the compromise as a "great victory of good over evil" and said respect for parliamentary procedures meant the election could not take place until at least July. The prime minister suggested October was a more realistic date.

Tymoshenko said deputies in her bloc were willing to end their longstanding boycott of parliament to approve the legislation needed for the election and find a compromise date.

A poll this week put Yanukovich's Regions Party in the lead with 37 percent. Tymoshenko's bloc lay second with 21 percent, while the president's Our Ukraine party scored 9 percent and an allied group had four percent, as did the Communist Party.

Source: Washington Post