Ukraine Leader Hails Poll Deal

KIEV, Ukraine -- President Viktor Yushchenko on Saturday said Ukraine had come of age by resolving a political crisis without foreign help, but there were signs that the deal clinched to end weeks of deadlock was already fraying.

President Viktor Yushchenko

A solution to the crisis, pitting Yushchenko against his rival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, was put in place as midnight approached on Friday when parliament passed legislation needed to hold an early parliamentary election in September.

But less than 24 hours later, Yanukovich's allies alleged that the liberal opposition, backers of the president, had failed to meet their obligations for parliament to be dissolved in strict legal fashion.

Yushchenko dissolved the assembly in April and ordered the election.

The date was set only after wrangling culminating in a deal this week with Yanukovich, his rival from the 2004 "Orange Revolution", subject to approval of the legislative package.

"The fact we resolved the parliamentary crisis in a decent and democratic way is a colossal achievement," Yushchenko told opposition leaders in comments broadcast later on the radio.

"This has been a test which we have passed with honour. This has been entirely Ukraine's effort."

Yushchenko took office after defeating Yanukovich in the re-run of a rigged 2004 presidential election following weeks of "orange" protests denouncing poll fraud.

An accord then to stage a new poll and alter the constitution, reducing the president's powers, was struck with the help of European mediators.


Parliament, hostile to Yushchenko, passed three measures related to the September 30 poll on Friday, just over an hour before his third deadline to the assembly was to expire.

One of the sitting's last acts was a move by two opposition parties to give up more than 150 seats, a third of the 450-seat chamber, to underpin parliament's dissolution.

But Taras Chornovil, an ally of the prime minister, said the procedure was flawed.

"We have done everything to ensure the election takes place," he told Radio Era. "But for me, the notion of 150 members giving up their seats is very dubious."

Parliamentary leaders scheduled a new sitting for next Tuesday, though the assembly's legal status was uncertain.

In his latest comments, Yushchenko said the current crisis had exposed the failings of post-Soviet institutions, notably the constitutional court and the prosecutor general's office.

"The ... crisis was difficult and deep-rooted. It showed that key state institutions are rotten to the core," he said.

Had the constitutional court operated efficiently, he said, "we would have solved the crisis much more quickly without corruption, fuss or humiliation. But it didn't work."

The president dissolved the chamber after accusing the prime minister of illegally poaching his supporters to enlarge his majority in parliament.

Yanukovich initially resisted the order and both leaders agreed to abide by a Constitutional Court ruling.

But many analysts doubted the court's impartiality and the president later said he would have nothing to do with it.

He tried to sack the prosecutor general during the crisis and accused his office of being too politicised.

Source: Javno