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Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party seeks to reverse constitutional deal
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, Nov. 11 – President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party pledged on Saturday to seek the cancellation of controversial amendments to the constitution that had shifted many presidential powers to the prime minister earlier this year.

The decision, approved by the party’s congress, suggests a clash is looming between Our Ukraine and the Regions Party, led by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, which had recently pledged to defend the amendments.

The development shows that the standoff between the president and the prime minister over supremacy to draft domestic and foreign policies has been spreading and affecting a bigger political spectrum.

Yushchenko has earlier promised not to seek the canceling of the amendments in exchange for an apparent promise from Yanukovych to go ahead with reforms that would bring Ukraine closer to Europe.

However, Yanukovych has been defying Yushchenko’s pro-Western foreign policy course ever since he had been approved as the prime minister on Aug. 4, promoting closer cooperation with Russia.

The amendments were approved in December 2004 as a compromise between Yushchenko, then the leader of the opposition, and parties backing then President Leonid Kuchma to allow free presidential vote that had catapulted Yushchenko to the presidency.

The amendments were approved by a hasty vote on Dec. 4, 2004 bypassing some important legal procedures and may be give reasons for the Constitutional Court to cancel them, some analysts said.

The amendments came into force earlier this year and allow the pro-government coalition to nominate most of ministers in the Cabinet, except the foreign and defense ministers that are nominated by the president.

The previous constitution allowed the president to nominate the prime minister and to appoint all other ministers. It also allowed the president to dismiss the prime minister anytime.

However, at the congress Our Ukraine refused to back Yushchenko’s plan for the party’s reorganization.

Yushchenko three weeks ago urged the party to replace the party’s top managers for the its humiliating performance at the March 26 election and subsequent failure to build a pro-Western coalition.

Sources said that Yushchenko has been promoting Arseniy Yatseniuk, his deputy chief of staff, to replace Roman Bezsmertniy as the party’s new leader.

However, Our Ukraine voted to keep the top management unchanged, a victory for Bezsmertniy, and the party’s other leaders, such as Petro Poroshenko and Mykola Martynenko. (nr/ez)

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