Ukraine Gives More Powers To President

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko voiced support yesterday for legislation strengthening the powers of the president with whom she has been at loggerheads, saying her government backed the law for the sake of democratic unity.

Viktor Yushchenko has regained some of the powers lost after the 'Orange Revolution'.

“At the president’s request, our political team voted for a new law on the cabinet, reducing the government’s powers ... and increasing those of the president,” she told a press conference.

“We supported (the legislation) for the sake of the unity of the democratic coalition.”

President Viktor Yushchenko and Tymoshenko were allies who led the 2004 Orange Revolution that peacefully overturned a rigged election originally awarded to a Moscow-backed candidate.

But relations between the two have since cooled.

Nevertheless Tymoshenko defended the unity of the democratic coalition with Yushchenko’s party, saying she hoped the new arrangements would “harmonise our activity and provide the government with the possibility to work”.

On Saturday Yushchenko approved the new legislation strengthening his authority over the government by allowing him to install pro-Western figures in key posts.

It gives him the power to block prime ministerial candidates and leaves the nomination of foreign and defence ministers in his hands alone.

The law, overturning a 2007 decree which clipped the president’s wings and asserted governmental control through parliament, won the votes of 245 pro-Western members loyal to Yushchenko – 19 more than the legal minimum.

Meanwhile, Yuschenko, on a visit to London, said in an interview broadcast yesterday that the arrival of the new Russian President Dmitry Medvedev should help improve the Kremlin’s strained relations with Kiev.

He responded positively when asked by Britain’s Sky News television whether Vladimir Putin’s departure would boost ties between the two countries. “I think so. I think that both parties are interested in improving their relations,” he said in translated comments from Ukrainian.

“I think we have to get rid of some kind of orthodox policies that sometimes (get) in the way of improving relations.

“I can see many politicians right now in Russia who are ready to well understand the new layout, independent states, there are very optimistic politicians.”

Yuschenko described Medvedev, who came to power on May 7, that the new Russian leader was “a person of my generation”, adding:

“This generation doesn’t think a lot about stereotypes all the time.

“We really and truly want progress with the new president of Russia. And we will be doing everything for that.”

Relations between Kiev and Moscow have worsened ever since the so-called “Orange Revolution” of 2005 when Yuschenko was elected president on a pro-Western ticket.

Source: AFP