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President, PM fail to reach agreement
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, Jan. 24 – President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych made little progress in talks over the controversial law that reduces presidential powers suggesting that the constitutional crisis is looming large.

Yanukovych called Yushchenko to discuss the law late Tuesday, shortly after the president had arrived in Kiev from Switzerland following a routine medical examination.

Parliament Speaker Oleksandr Moroz, Yanukovych’s ally, called Yushchenko on Wednesday to discuss the same issue, according to Yushchenko’s press service.

Yanukovych and Moroz told Yushchenko that the pro-government coalition would consider debating presidential proposals to amend the law after Yushchenko quickly signs it into effect.

But Yushchenko apparently rejected the plan insisting that the entire law must be again debated and voted in Parliament.

That brings Ukraine closer to the constitutional crisis when both, the president and the government, may claim the same powers, such as the right to nominate foreign and defense ministers.

Although Yushchenko vetoed the law, Moroz had later questioned the president’s decision and suggested that the speaker himself would sign it to make sure it takes effect.

“I wouldn’t want to start this tradition, but if the president takes the negative decision, I will be forced to [sign it],” Moroz told reported later on Wednesday. “It’s not because I want this, but because this is an imperative defined by the constitution.”

Yanukovych, a pro-Russian figure, for the past five months has been desperately seeking to change Ukraine’s foreign policy by slowing the country’s accession to NATO. Russia, which views NATO as a military threat, has been threatening Ukraine with economic sanctions if the country joins the alliance.

The controversial law would allow Yanukovych to replace pro-Western Foreign Minister Boris Tarasiuk, and later possibly Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko, with more loyal figures.

The constitution allows only the president to nominate both ministers, but the law gives this power also to the pro-government coalition if the president fails to nominate the ministers within 15 days after the jobs become vacant.

Arseniy Yasteniuk, the first deputy chief of staff at the presidential administration, said on Wednesday that the president would appeal to the Constitutional Court if Moroz tries to put the controversial law into effect.

“The president will be forced to appeal the entire law,” Yatseniuk said. “The president’s position is so clear and politically sound that any deviation from this position would be a violation of legislation.” (tl/ez)




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