KIEV, Sept. 4 â€“ President Viktor Yushchenkoâ€™s Our Ukraine party on Monday resumed pressure on its would-be coalition partners to expel the Communist Party from the coalition government.
The move, if successful, would help Our Ukraine to increase its role in the coalition and would de-facto increase Yushchenkoâ€™s ability to promote his pro-Western foreign policy.
But the idea was vehemently opposed by the Regions Party, the largest group in the coalition, which apparently views the Communists as a chance to avoid heavy dependence on Our Ukraine.
The emerging dispute between the coalition partners may reduce the number of lawmakers supporting the government, affecting the governmentâ€™s ability to push through important legislation in Parliament.
â€śThe Communistsâ€™ involvement or non-involvement in the coalition may affect the number of Our Ukraine lawmakers that are ready to sign the coalition agreement,â€ť Foreign Minister Boris Tarasiuk, an Our Ukraine member, said.
The Communist Party openly pro-Russian stance stands in contrast with the Regions Party and the Socialist Party, groups that have been recently using both, pro-Russian and pro-Western rhetoric. Our Ukraine is a vehemently pro-Western group.
The Regions Party, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party signed a coalition agreement in July that calls for creating the government. The coalition, known as the anti-crisis group, musters about 240 lawmakers in the 450-seat Parliament.
Analysts said support from Our Ukraine, which controls 81 lawmakers, would help the coalition form a stronger government.
Chances for Our Ukraineâ€™s involvement into the coalition increased on Aug. 5, when at least 30 of its lawmakers voted to support Regions Party leader Viktor Yanukovych as the prime minister.
The deal allowed Our Ukraine to keep several important posts in the government, including Roman Zvarych on post of the Justice Minister, whose approval is crucial in implementing any governmentâ€™s resolutions.
Although the Regions Party, the Socialist Party and Our Ukraine on Aug. 3 apparently signed a secret memorandum to form a trilateral coalition, no formal agreement had been signed.
Ivan Bokiy, a senior member of the Socialist Party, said Monday that the three parties may still sign the trilateral agreement and have been holding talks on the matter.
â€śThe quick signing the coalition agreement by the three parties was possible in or before October,â€ť Bokiy told NTN television.
But the Regions Party has been apparently opposing rejection of the Communist Party as this would make the government coalition entirely dependent on Our Ukraine, reducing Yanukovychâ€™s political clout within the coalition.
â€śWe are building our position and future steps on understanding that the coalition (that includes the Communists) is still in place,â€ť Raisa Bohatyriova, a senior member of the Regions Party, said. â€śWe havenâ€™t discussed other options.â€ť
The developments come amid escalating arguments within Our Ukraine on whether to formally join the coalition with at least 10 lawmakers apparently ready to quit the party.
Mykola Katerynchuk, a senior Our Ukraine member and the leader of a faction that is unhappy about the idea of the coalition with the Regions Party, said the lawmakers may quit the party.
â€śPeople that stick to their principlesâ€ť would not join such coalition, Katerynchuk said.
Katerynchyk has been reportedly working on plans to set up a new party, according to a recent report in Kommersant daily. Although Katerynchuk on Monday denied the plans, he said there is always room for a new party to be formed in Ukraine. (tl/ez)