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Yushchenko seeks power to fire government
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, Feb. 15 – President Viktor Yushchenko will soon appeal to the Constitutional Court seeking to obtain the right to dismiss the Cabinet of Ministers, Ihor Pukshyn, the president’s top legal advisor, said Thursday.

The appeal is being considered after the government has launched a barrage of lawsuits that challenge powers of the president to appoint local officials throughout Ukrainian regions.

The developments underscore rapidly worsening relations between the pro-Western president and the pro-Russian government that may lead to a change of the country’s foreign policy course.

“The Cabinet reports to the president and to Parliament, and besides… the president is the guarantor of the constitution,” Pukshyn said. “Based on these norms, the president has all the grounds to appeal to the Constitutional Court for clarification what does this responsibility mean.”

The president and the government, which was formed by his political rival Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, are locked in a dispute for the past six months over powers shared by both offices.

The dispute arises from controversial amendments to the constitution that came in effect on Jan. 1, 2006, that reduce presidential powers, such as the right to appoint ministers, in favor of the government.

However, many constitutional norms were not clear enough allowing the government to claim even bigger authorities thus reducing the presidential powers to a minimum.

The standoff between the president and the government recently worsened after the government coalition had refused to support presidential nominees for the posts of the foreign minister and the chief of the security service.

Volodymyr Ohryzko, a pro-Western diplomat and a key negotiator with Russia on sensitive issue of stationing of the Russian naval fleet in Ukraine, is not likely to get support from the coalition, Yanukovych said.

At the same time, the coalition, based on a recent controversial law, claims to have obtained power to nominate the foreign minister if the president fails to do so within 15 days.

That means that the coalition may try to appoint a pro-Russian figure to the post, which will most likely be disputed by the president and would lead to the constitutional crisis, analysts said.

Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych, an ally of Yanukovych, rejected the plans by the president to seek the power to dismiss the government.

“From my point of view, it is impossible to get legal grounds that would allow the president to dismiss the Cabinet,” Lavrynovych told 1+1 television Thursday. (tl/ez)




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