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Our Ukraine postpones talks on coalition
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, April 20 - President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party postponed talks over creation of the ruling coalition with two other parties for five days to celebrate Orthodox Easter, the chief negotiator said Thursday.

The delay shows the party has been seeking to drag on the talks, tactics that are widely seen as benefiting Our Ukraine and putting pressure on former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

“As you know it is Easter’s Eve and only godless people conduct political talks before the Easter,” Roman Bezmertniy, Our Ukraine’s chief negotiator, said. “So, we will return to the talks after the Easter and will conduct them within the Orange coalition.”

Ukraine will celebrate the Orthodox Easter on Sunday, while the government has announced that Monday will be an official holiday, suggesting the talks may resume on Tuesday as the earliest.

The five-day delay comes as parties, including Our Ukraine, the Tymoshenko group and the Socialist Party, have made little progress in fostering the coalition since the March 26 election.

The three parties, known for supporting in November 2004 the Orange Revolution, a popular uprising against election fraud, would control a majority of 243 seats in 450-seat Parliament.

However, the parties have so far been making extremely slow progress in creating the coalition amid Our Ukraine’s resistance to a clause that would open way for Tymoshenko to secure the post of the prime minister.

Tymoshenko, whose party collected more votes than Our Ukraine, had been insisting on the post. But Our Ukraine is cautious that Tymoshenko may resort to heavily populist policy as has been the case last year that had led to major economic slowdown.

The slow progress triggered speculations that Our Ukraine might be seeking to begin talks with the Regions Party, a group with electoral support from industrialized and predominantly Russian-speaking eastern regions of Ukraine.

But Bezsmertniy rejected the speculations.

“Our Ukraine’s position is that the only coalition that may be adequate in Ukraine would be the Orange coalition,” Bezsmertniy said.

A failure to create the coalition within 30 days after lawmakers have their first session in the middle of May would allow Yushchenko to dismiss the legislature and call new election.

The looming deadline is putting growing pressure on all parties, especially on Tymoshenko, for accepting Our Ukraine’s proposal of nominating a figure more loyal to Yushchenko for running the government.

“It’s my dream,” Bezsmertniy said. “But let’s wait and see.” (tl/ez)

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