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Prez calls to end standoff in Parliament
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, June 29 – President Viktor Yushchenko on Thursday called on pro-government and opposition groups to end their standoff in Parliament and to immediately start negotiations that would allow the legislature to resume operation.

Yushchenko’s comments come after the Regions Party, a pro-Russian opposition group, had blocked Parliament for three days following its ultimatum to force the pro-government coalition to let the party control key committees.

“The only way out of this situation is to have a good will for the negotiations… and to reject the language of ultimatums,” Yushchenko told reporters. “Right now there is a good chance to understand that democracy is good for everyone, for those who win and for those who lose.”

The Regions Party blocked the session of Parliament on Tuesday by shutting electronic voting system thus not letting pro-government lawmakers register for the session.

A group of opposition lawmakers also swarmed around a tribune and presidium thus not letting temporary leadership of Parliament to take their seats and start the session. The group, with about 15 rotating lawmakers, holds its ground on a 24-hour schedule since Tuesday.

The Regions Party, which is apparently frustrated to see their pro-Western opponents forming the government, demanded to get control over some 10 key committees in Parliament, including the budget committee.

The party also wants lawmakers to cast secret ballots while electing the Speaker of Parliament, as opposed to an open vote by the electronic voting system. The Regions hope this would allow their leader, Viktor Yanukovych, to be elected as the speaker, apparently in anticipation that some pro-government lawmakers would secretly defect to their camp.

The pro-Western groups, which include Our Ukraine, Yushchenko’s party, the Socialist Party and a group led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, has already held preliminary talks with the Regions earlier Thursday.

“Those were the talks of a mute with the deaf,” former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, the leader of the Regions, said Thursday.

The parties have scheduled another round of talks on Friday morning.

The standoff in Parliament delays appointment of the new government, which is likely to be led by Tymoshenko, whose party controls the biggest number of seats in Parliament among coalition partners.

The failure to appoint the government, coupled with the Constitutional Court, which lacks a quorum for normal operation, underscores challenges that Yushchenko faces while running the country.

“To work in a country without the [majority] government and without the Constitutional Court is extremely difficult,” Yushchenko said.

Yushchenko suggested that he may invite the leaders of pro-government and opposition groups to his office for talks to try to end the standoff.

“I will do my job as the president in solving of this confrontation,” Yushchenko said. “I will do this exceptionally in a constitutional way.” (tl/ez)




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