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Yushchenko to meet Yanukovych over PM post
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, July 19 – President Viktor Yushchenko will Thursday hold a meeting with Viktor Yanukovych, the leader of the Regions Party that has been nominated for the post of the prime minister by the pro-Russian coalition.

The meeting will be crucial to show whether Yushchenko will submit the nomination to Parliament for approval, or will wait until after July 25, a deadline when the president gets power to dismiss Parliament.

“The president said he had received Parliament’s nomination of Yanukovych,” Raisa Bohatyriova, a senior member of the Regions Party, said Wednesday after a meeting with Yushchenko. “Tomorrow [the president] will have the meeting with Yanukovych.”

Yushchenko has so far been lukewarm to backing the nomination of Yanukovych, his rival at the hotly contested presidential election in December 2004, amid concerns the nomination may split Ukraine.

Yanukovych is supported in eastern regions of Ukraine, but is rejected in western and central parts of the country for the role he has played in the 2004 election fraud.

The pro-Russian coalition, led by the Regions Party, was created less than two weeks ago and controls 239 lawmakers in the 450-seat Parliament. Besides the Regions Party, it also involves two small leftist parties, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party, potentially making the coalition unstable.

Yushchenko has been encouraging the Regions Party to form a new coalition, with his party Our Ukraine, a grouping that would probably be able to promote his pro-Western foreign policy and economic reforms.

But the talks over the so-called grand coalition are in a deadlock as the Regions Party has refused to meet Our Ukraine’s demands, such as expelling the Communists from the coalition and letting the group to nominate the prime minister.

Petro Poroshenko, a senior Our Ukraine member, said Wednesday it was unlikely for the party to join the pro-Russian coalition, and suggested the party would probably agree for a new coalition that would apparently exclude the Communist and the Socialist Party.

“This must be a different format of the coalition,” Poroshenko told 1+1 television.

If Yushchenko decides to reject the Yanukovych candidacy, the dismissal of Parliament and calling of new election within 60 days may be the only alternative, analysts said.

Volodymyr Shapoval, Yushchenko’s representative in the Constitutional Court, held a press conference on Wednesday to stress that the president will have the power to dismiss Parliament after July 25 unless the government is formed by then.

“There is the president’s power to dismiss Parliament after July 25,” Shapoval said. “Perhaps… he may use his power.” (tl/ez)

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