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Regions Party rejects plan for committees
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, July 5 – The Regions Party, the largest opposition group, at a meeting Wednesday rejected a plan that had called for creating six special committees in Parliament to enable opposition lawmakers control the government.

The move dealt a blow towards talks between three pro-government groups and the Regions Party that have been seeking to work out a solution that would unblock the work of Parliament.

The Regions Party, which controls 186 lawmakers in the 450-seat Parliament, has been seeking to get control over 10 key legislative committees, including the budget committee, to keep the government in check.

But pro-government coalition, which controls 243 seats, rejected the demand and suggested to create up to six special committees that would have special powers to control the actions of the government.

Yevhen Kushnariov, negotiator for the Regions Party, argued the special committees are not anticipated by the legislation, while control over standing committees would provide opposition with tools to keep the government in check.

“They told us [getting the special committees] is like getting the latest model of Ferrari as opposed to riding a bicycle,” Kushnariov said. “But I said Ferrari is only in their rich imagination, while the bicycle is right here and we need to go tomorrow.”

The developments underscore attempts by political groups in Ukraine to work out a solution allowing effective operation of the government, while also allowing opposition to have tools of control.

Ukraine’s political system appeared to be unbalanced following controversial amendments to the constitution that had come into force on Jan. 1 and shifted much of powers from the president to Parliament.

The amendments were pushed through by then-President Leonid Kuchma in December 2004 in exchange for allowing a fair re-run of the vote that had eventually led to Viktor Yushchenko, a pro-Western leader, winning the presidency.

Since the amendments shifted more powers to Parliament, such as nominating ministers to the government, the coalition fears that allowing too many posts in the legislature to opposition would impede the government’s operation.

The Regions Party insisted the coalition to approve laws that would eventually regulate the rights of the opposition in Ukraine, but in the meantime to allow opposition lawmakers to control 10 key committees.

“When you park your Ferrari right here, we would be happy to get in and leave our bicycle,” Kushnariov said. “But if there is no Ferrari then we’re sorry.”

The refusal by the Regions Party to accept the plan for the special committees delayed the talks and postponed indefinitely a meeting between party leaders and Yushchenko that had been scheduled on Wednesday.

About 20 lawmakers from the Regions Party warned they may go on a hunger strike to step up pressure on the coalition. (tl/ez)




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