KIEV, Oct. 15 – Yulia Tymoshenko on Monday moved a step closer to securing the post of prime minister after signing a preliminary coalition agreement with President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine-People’s Self-defense.
The groups, which will jointly control a slim majority of 228 seats in the 450-seat Parliament following the Sept. 30 snap election, signed the agreement after a meeting with Yushchenko.
“The same agreement - without any changes - will be signed at the first session of Parliament in line with the constitution,” Yuriy Lutsenko, who led Our Ukraine-People’s Self-defense for the election, said.
The agreement, which is expected to be disclosed to the public on Wednesday, apparently anticipates Tymoshenko taking the post of the prime minister, while Our Ukraine will nominate the speaker of Parliament.
The agreement also stipulates that each group will nominate 12 ministers in the 24-seat Cabinet of Ministers in line with pre-election promises.
It also addresses some of the concerns that had been earlier aired by Yushchenko, such as allowing the president to nominate the internal affairs minister, lifting immunity from lawmakers and amending the law on the Cabinet of Ministers to give the president more authority.
It is widely expected that Viachelsav Kyrylenko, the leader of Our Ukraine, will be nominated as the speaker of Parliament.
The agreement ends two weeks of talks between the Tymoshenko group and Our Ukraine-People’s Self-defense, the two pro-Western parties, over creation of the coalition following the Sept. 30 election.
The coalition will replace the pro-Russian government led by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych as his Regions Party’s and its pro-Moscow ally Communist Party have failed to secure enough votes to hold on to power.
Tymoshenko said that her group and Our Ukraine-People’s Self-defense are still in talks with the group of former parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn for expanding the coalition.
The joining of Lytvyn’s group, which will control 20 seats, to the coalition would expand the coalition to a comfortable 248 seats, a scenario that is apparently favored by the president and by other leaders.
“We try to find the mutual understanding,” Tymoshenko said. “The more powerful the coalition is and the more lawmakers join it, the better.”
Meanwhile, the Regions Party, which will control 175 seats in parliament, issued a statement on Monday calling on the groups to include the party into a grand coalition and to jointly form the government.
“We will do our best to form such an effective coalition of political groups that would represent the interests of maximum of voters,” the party said. “Ignoring the choice of the Ukrainian people would inevitably lead to the destruction of the economy, civil peace and political stability.” (tl/ez)