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Yushchenko’s party to join opposition
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, July 18 – President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party on Tuesday declared it will join parliamentary opposition as the pro-Russian coalition had pushed for nominating its leader Viktor Yanukovych as the prime minister.

The development suggests talks between Our Ukraine and Yanukovych-led Regions Party over creation of the grand coalition have failed, potentially straining relations between the group and Yushchenko.

“Starting today, Our Ukraine is in minority and that means in opposition,” Anatoliy Kinakh, a senior Our Ukraine lawmaker, said.

The pro-Russian coalition, which formally controls 239 lawmakers in the 450-seat Parliament on Tuesday for the second time nominated Yanukovych for the top post in the government.

Oleksandr Moroz, the speaker of Parliament and an ally of Yanukovych, submitted the nomination the president, who is supposed to sign it before lawmakers can vote to finally approve it.

The pro-Russian coalition was forced to re-submit the nomination after Yushchenko said the first nomination, on July 11, had failed to meet required procedures and had been thus illegal.

Yushchenko has so far been lukewarm to signing the nomination of Yanukovych, his former rival at the bitterly contested presidential election in December 2004, saying such nomination may split the country.

Now Yushchenko has 15 days to submit the nomination to Parliament that technically falls after the July 25 deadline after which the president can dissolve Parliament and call early election.

“We doubt he will [dismiss Parliament] as opinion polls suggest the population do not want early election, and that Our Ukraine would get hammered in the polls,” Timothy Ash, an analyst with Bear Stearns International in London, said.

“Yushchenko could stall approving Yanukovych indefinitely as far as we are aware,” Ash said. “Hence it would then be up to the Regions Party to nominate a new individual or call Yushchenko's bluff and push for early elections.”

Meanwhile, there were signs that the Regions Party had been seeking to form the government before July 25 deadline thus avoiding a scenario when Yushchenko could technically get the power to dismiss Parliament.

Yevhen Kushnariov, a top official at the Regions Party, said consultations have been still underway with Our Ukraine officials in an attempt to secure Yushchenko’s party’s support for the new government.

The Regions Party was ready for compromises, but flatly refused to backtrack on nominating Yanukovych as the prime minister. “That’s out of the question,” Kushnariov told the 5th Channel.

“The Regions Party thinks it holds all the cards and is playing hardball,” Ash said. “The worst case is it gets early election and increases its share of seats in Parliament.” (tl/ez)




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