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Ukraine government coalition talks fail
Journal Staff Report

Socialists press with ultimatum; Our Ukraine says talks ?pointless’

KIEV, June 12 - Talks to form the new government in Ukraine were in a deadlock Monday as the Socialist Party had been pressing with an ultimatum seeking to take the post of the Parliamentary Speaker.

The development indicates that three pro-Western parties holding the talks are increasingly likely to fail to sign a coalition agreement by June 14 self-imposed deadline.

Our Ukraine, the Socialist Party and a group led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, which control a simple majority in Parliament, have last week tentatively agreed to sign the coalition agreement.

However, the agreement was delayed indefinitely Wednesday after the Socialist Party had suddenly refused to support it unless the party’s leader, Oleksandr Moroz, gets the job of the speaker.

“Due to the ultimatum from the Socialist Party… Our Ukraine believes that further talks over the coalition are pointless,” Our Ukraine said in a statement on Monday.

The Socialists argue giving the job to Moroz would help to diffuse possible tensions between the Tymoshenko Bloc and Our Ukraine, the two rival parties who mostly compete among the same electorate.

But Our Ukraine argues it should get the post, the second most important job in the coalition, after receiving more than twice as many votes as the Socialists at the March 26 election.

The development deals a blow towards 2.5-month talks between the three parties to create the coalition and may strengthen positions of those seeking to include members of an opposition Regions Party into the government.

The Socialist Party has been making conflicting statements over the possibility of its future cooperation with the Regions Party, which controls the largest number of seats in Parliament, most recently denying such cooperation.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are facing a deadline of June 26 to form the coalition or face a possible dismissal by President Viktor Yushchenko. The threat of the dismissal may force some lawmakers migrate from one group to another to form short-term majority that could tilt balances in the legislature, analysts said.

As a sign of such possibility, an informal group has been formed last week, known as the Stability in Ukraine. It numbers 37 lawmakers, mostly wealthy businessmen, representing groups from the Regions Party, Our Ukraine to the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc.

Analtoliy Kinakh, the leader of the group and an Our Ukraine lawmaker, said the group would seek to cooperate with the president to ensure economic stability in the country.

The number of lawmakers in the group would probably be enough to replace a 33-strong Socialist Party and to create a simple majority in the 450-seat Parliament, analysts said. (tl/ez)




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