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Prez warns party leaders about dismissal
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, July 31 – President Viktor Yushchenko on Monday held consultations with political leaders, a move that precedes dismissal of Parliament, apparently seeking to force the leaders to support his pro-Western foreign policy course.

The development comes amid active attempts to restart talks between the Regions Party, a moderate pro-Russian group, and Our Ukraine, Yushchenko’s party, to create a coalition that would promote pro-Western policy.

The talks collapsed late Friday after Yushchenko had apparently refused to support Viktor Yanukovych, a controversial leader of the Regions Party, for the post of the prime minister.

In response, the Regions Party refused to abandon some of its pro-Russian rhetoric, including resistance to Ukraine’s quick accession to NATO and calls to elevate the status of the Russian language in the country.

Yushchenko met Yanukovych on Monday for the consultations. Earlier in the day, Yushchenko also spoke with Our Ukraine leader Roman Bezsmertniy and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the leaders of two other biggest groups in Parliament.

“These talks have been held in the context of… the possibility of the dismissal of Parliament,” Yushchenko told reporters after the meeting.

The constitution requires the president to hold consultations with political leaders and Parliamentary leadership before signing decree that would dissolve the legislature.

Yushchenko last week obtained the power to dismiss Parliament as no government had been formed 60 days after resignation of the previous Cabinet on May 25 following the March 26 election. The consultations on Monday open door for Yushchenko now to sign the decree anytime.

But Yushchenko said the dismissal of Parliament would only come if political groups fail to sign the agreement in which the Regions Party agrees to Ukraine’s accession to NATO and close cooperation with the European Union. The party would also have to abandon its calls for making Ukraine “a federal state” with major autonomy granted to regions and elevating the status of the Russian language.

Top negotiators from Our Ukraine and the Regions Party have been meeting Monday and early Tuesday to try to iron out the differences and prepare the agreement for signing Tuesday, people familiar with developments said.

“Yushchenko needs a sufficient commitment to a Westernizing agenda, to sell the deal to his electorate,” Timothy Ash, an analyst at Bear Stearns International in London, said.

The failure to get agreement between Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine and the Regions Party could further escalate tensions and lead to a constitutional crisis when the presidency would be pitted against Parliament.

“We think this is unlikely, and a last minute deal will be brokered, with the creation of a Grand Coalition, between the Regions Party, Our Ukraine, the Socialist Party and possibly the Communists,” Ash said. “Then again, this whole sorry saga has dragged on far longer than anyone had predicted, so anything is still possible.” (tl/ez)




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