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Yushchenko warns against confidence vote
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, Nov. 9 - President Viktor Yushchenko warned the pro-government coalition on Thursday that its apparent plans to hold a no-confidence vote in foreign and defense ministers next week may trigger “instability” in Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Boris Tarasiuk and Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko, the key backers of Ukraine’s pro-Western foreign policy course, have been summoned up to Parliament on Nov. 15.

“I think the government must pay greater attention to consolidation of the society,” Yushchenko told reporters. “The decision to summon up the ministers forms instability.”

The comment is Yushchenko’s first reaction to the coalition’s decision last week to summon up the ministers, a move that many see as an assault on Yushchenko’s pro-Western foreign policy.

The vote to dismiss the ministers could escalate into a major political crisis as the president is authorized by the constitution to nominate the foreign and defense ministers.

However, Parliament’s refusal to back Yushchenko’s nominations may lead to a serious standoff that under some circumstances could even trigger the dismissal of Parliament and early election.

“One of the government’s main tasks is to form political stability,” Yushchenko said, adding that only the stability can help promote democratic reforms in the country.

The development is the latest indication that the president and the government have been drifting towards a major clash. The president and the government have been arguing over powers for the past three months following controversial amendments to the constitution that had shifted much of the president’s powers to the prime minister.

The constitution gives the government more powers to formulate economic and domestic policies, but Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych has been steadily trying to change Ukraine’s pro-Western foreign policy course towards greater cooperation with Russia.

Analysts said that Yanukovych has been seeking to secure a better natural gas supply deal with Russia, Ukraine’s key source and supplier of energy.

Russia, citing a price dispute, used its gas supply monopoly in January by completely shutting down supplies of natural gas to Ukraine, causing major supply disruptions throughout Europe.

The coalition sacked two Yushchenko’s loyalists from the government two weeks ago, including the justice and culture ministers, and tried to suspend for two months Internal Affairs Minister Yuriy Lutsenko. (tl/ez)




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