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New demands postpone talks to end crisis
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, July 3 – Talks at ending a standoff in Parliament were postponed on Monday after the Regions Party, an opposition group, had suddenly issued new demands now seeking greater concessions from the pro-government coalition.

The development forced President Viktor Yushchenko to invite leaders of three pro-government parties and the opposition group to his office on Tuesday for negotiations to unblock the work of Parliament.

“Due to irresponsibility of all group leaders without exception the [Monday] meeting between pro-government groups and the opposition has not taken place,” Iryna Herashchenko, Yushchenko’s spokeswoman, said.

The Regions Party, which controls 186 lawmakers in 450-seat Parliament, has been blocking the work of legislature for a week, putting pressure on pro-government groups seeking to secure control over key committees.

The pro-government groups, including Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine, the Socialist Party and a group led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, that control a total of 243 lawmakers, rejected the ultimatum.

The parties have been holding secrete talks over the weekend that have apparently led to some progress in resolving the dispute before the scheduled meeting on Monday. But the meeting collapsed shortly after the opposition had issued the new set of demands.

The Regions Party, which has been so far seeking control over key Parliamentary committees, such as the budget committee, and a vote for the speaker through secret ballots, now had also insisted on getting the post of the first deputy speaker of Parliament. It now also seeks to get unspecified positions in the executive and to nominate judges to the Constitutional Court.

“This is not only impudence, but a challenge for the entire Ukrainian society,” Oleksandr Turchynov, Tymoshenko’s top ally, told Ukrayinska Pravda online newspaper. “This is all done to destabilize the country.”

According to a preliminary agreement, reached between pro-government coalition and the opposition group over the weekend, Tymoshenko, who is expected to get the job of the prime minister, and Yanukovych were supposed to meet to end the standoff.

But Yanukovych later refused to join the meeting and his party had suddenly issued the new demands.

“All preliminary agreements have been destroyed,” Turchynov said.

The standoff in Parliament delays appointment of the new government in Ukraine that is supposed to start dealing with a number of serious economic issues, including arranging sufficient gas supplies this year.

The Regions party has been blocking Parliamentary sessions for the past seven days reflecting its frustration that it had failed to create a ruling coalition with Our Ukraine. (tl/ez)




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