KIEV, April 22 вЂ“ Ukrainian leaders made little progress over the weekend to settle sharp political crisis in the country, days before an expected ruling by the Constitutional Court that may further escalate the conflict.
Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych said the court would probably rule against the president and urged him within days to suspend his decree that had dismissed Parliament. Yanukovych said only after that the coalition would agree to begin talks over the way out of the crisis.
This position differed fundamentally from what Yushchenko had suggested on Friday: Making a political deal among all political groups in order to secure the new election, and only then suspending the decree for up to 20 days.
The difference suggests that Yanukovych, partly because of pressure from junior coalition partners, such as the Socialist Party, has been de-facto refusing to accept the idea of early election.
вЂњToday he [Yushchenko] has got an opportunity to suspend the decree before the ruling and to start talks on issues that he is worried about,вЂќ Yanukovych told a Russian television Sunday. вЂњAfter the court makes the ruling, he of course will have to obey to the ruling and his position, to put it mildly, will be poor.вЂќ
The comment comes as the Constitutional Court, which has failed to make any ruling over the past nine months, has been making unusually fast progress in deliberations over the decree. At least 12 judges out of 18 voted to continue the deliberation on Saturday, normally a day off. This may be a sign that 12 judges may actually support the ruling against Yushchenko in his bitter stand-off with the ruling coalition, analysts said.
Yushchenko issued the decree to dissolve Parliament on April 2 after the coalition, led by Yanukovych, started to recruit individual opposition lawmakers to create by May 1 a 300-strong coalition in 450-seat Parliament. Such coalition would be veto-proof and be able to change the constitution at will, perhaps even to cancel the post of the president.
Yushchenko argued such practice of building the coalition was illegal and had grossly distorted results of the March 26 2006 election. The president ordered the new election for May 27. The coalition refused to obey the decree and the government refused to allocate money for the election, de-facto suspending the process in a deadlock. (tl/ez)