Stall Tactics Pose Threat To Elections

KIEV, Ukraine -- Premier Viktor Yanukovych is calling for the country’s political leaders to sign a new agreement before elections can move forward.

Rada Speaker Oleksandr Moroz

Meanwhile, despite previously agreeing to early elections, Rada Speaker Oleksandr Moroz has referred to the early elections as “political adventurism.”

“A question arises to Moroz: Why did he sign the ‘decision of the three’ [with Yanukovych and President Viktor Yushchenko] to hold elections on Sept. 30,” asked Oleksandr Chernenko, press secretary for the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, the country’s largest NGO and elections watchdog.

Moroz has accused Yushchenko of violating the early elections agreement.

Moroz became speaker on July 6 last year after surprising his one-time “Orange” allies Byut and Our Ukraine by joining the Party of Regions and the Communists to form a majority coalition in parliament.

Byut and Our Ukraine accused Moroz of betrayal, while Moroz maintained that he did what was best for the country.

Support for the Socialist Party has fallen since the March 2006 elections, when they received 5.6 percent of the popular vote. Various public opinion polls have shown that support for the Socialists has fallen below 3 percent – the minimum required to qualify for seats in parliament.

“Moroz may or may not want elections, but everything is moving toward them taking place. The main thing is for the Central Elections Commission to function, and here Moroz’s wishes are not that important,” Chernenko said.

Meanwhile, Party of the Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych wrote in the influential Dzerkalo Tyzhnia weekly newspaper on June 30 that a new political agreement should be signed for the elections to go ahead.

He wrote the appeal after President Yushchenko appeared in television commercials saying that elections would go ahead as planned and no new “universals” would be signed.

“The document should outline mutual commitments to not block the work of the Central Elections Commission, principles for the formation of district and polling station commissions, and pledge to accept the [election] results that will be made public by an official decision of the CEC. If this is not done, then we will enter a new crisis right after elections,” wrote Yanukovych.

“I would not place great hopes on some kind of new agreements, because they do not bind anyone to anything… A devaluation of all these agreements and signatures has occurred in Ukraine,” Chernenko said.

“The CEC is the biggest danger to these elections. Political forces stand above the CEC, and it should not be that way. [Political forces] need to say ‘let’s forget what’s in the past and all work toward guaranteeing the elections’ and pass these instructions to the members of the commission. This has not yet happened,” Chernenko said.

New moves

Also this week, reports surfaced that the pro-presidential Our Ukraine and the People’s Self-Defense political parties had decided upon the people who would lead their joint electoral bloc list. On June 28, the two parties announced that they would run for parliament together.

Oleksandr Tretiakov, an Our Ukraine leader, told journalists that former Internal Affairs Minister Yuriy Lutsenko would be number one on the election list. But places on electoral lists are subject to approval by delegates at national conventions, which the bloc has not yet held.

The announcement of the creation of the joint bloc caught other pro-presidential forces by surprise, specifically, the Rukh Ukrainian Right bloc of three political parties, which have supported Yushchenko since 2002.

On July 4, the bloc’s press service said that placing Lutsenko at the head of the pro-presidential electoral bloc list is a bad idea because of his “internationalism.” Lutsenko was a member of the Socialist Party before breaking ranks and forming People’s Self-Defense.

Meanwhile, Byut, led by fiery oppositionist Yulia Tymoshenko, said that it would not join any “mega-blocs” and would run in the elections as a separate political force.

The Communists have condemned Yushchenko’s dismissal of parliament and call for new elections, but said they would participate in them. The party has also indicated that it would run alone. Various polls show that the Communists have a good chance of crossing the 3 percent qualifying barrier.

Meanwhile, Chernenko’s NGO is also preparing for the Sept. 30 date.

“We have an action plan for the election monitoring, public education and training of election commission members. We are preparing our network and will present an initial report before the start of the campaign, where we will state the level of preparedness and the dangers to the campaign,” Chernenko said.

“We will issue regular reports on violations, and conduct a public education campaign for voters on changes to election law and problems with voter lists. We will explain to voters how to resolve these problems and how to protect their rights.”

Source: Kyiv Post