KIEV, April 25 â€“ President Viktor Yushchenko on Wednesday postponed the date for early election until June 24 in a move that may appear to be a turning point in his power struggle with the pro-Russian government coalition.
Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych cut short his trip to Uzbekistan, and had been urgently returning to Ukraine, a sign the government has been viewing Yushchenkoâ€™s move as an emergency.
Yushchenko dismissed Parliament on April 2 and called the early election for May 27, but the government had sabotaged the election by refusing to finance it. Pro-government lawmakers later questioned the legality of the dismissal by appealing to the Constitutional Court.
However, Yushchenkoâ€™s latest decree postponing the election date apparently also cites a new reason for the dismissal of Parliament potentially making obsolete the Constitutional Courtâ€™s deliberations over the previous decree.
â€śThe early parliamentary election in Ukraine will take place,â€ť Yushchenko said. â€śMy position is inviolable.â€ť
The development shows that Yushchenko has been taking a tougher line in relations with the pro-Russian government coalition led by Yanukovych.
When dismissing Parliament on April 2 Yushchenko has cited his obligation to protect the constitution after the coalition had started to illegally recruit individual opposition lawmakers. Yanukovych planned to boost the coalitionâ€™s numbers to 300 seats in 450-seat legislature that would enable it to change the constitution at will.
The constitution lets the president dismiss Parliament only in three specific cases described in the Article 90 neither of which had been actually cited by Yushchenko on April 2.
However, this time Yushchenko cited the Article 90 that in fact allows the president to dismiss the legislature if the coalition hasnâ€™t been created within 30 days.
Yushchenko argued the coalition, known as the Coalition of National Unity, which was created late March with the help of 11 opposition lawmakers, was created illegally. No legal coalition was created during this time, giving the president enough reason to dismiss Parliament.
â€śOne month passed since the coalition had been reformatted against the constitution,â€ť Yushchenko said. â€śNow, the president of Ukraine has full right to resort to dismissing Parliament based on the Article 90.â€ť
The new decree may force the Constitutional Court to stop deliberations over the previous decree. The court, which is thought to be dominated by loyalists of Yanukovych, was widely expected to rule against Yushchenko.
â€śThe new decree will probably replace the previous decree and thatâ€™s why the Constitutional Court will have to close the case that had been heard over the past eight days,â€ť Viktor Chyvokunia, a political commentator at Ukrayinska Pravda, said.
Taras Chornovil, a spokesman for the Regions Party, said the party will probably again appeal Yushchenkoâ€™s decree in the Constitutional Court.
But analysts said the new case will probably not be handled by Susanna Stanik, a judge that has been accused by security service of corruption and that is thought to be loyal to Yanukovych.
Stanikâ€™s mother is thought to have received $12 million in real estate and property over the past two years and the security service suspects this may have had an influence on the judgeâ€™s position. (tl/ez)