KIEV, Nov. 26 – Tensions rose sharply within Our Ukraine-People’s Self-defense, President Viktor Yushchenko’s group, on Monday after five of its lawmakers refused to sign an agreement aimed at creating the pro-Western government coalition.
Each of the five lawmakers, including Ivan Pliushch, Yushchenko’s former top security advisor, and Yuri Yekhanurov, a former prime minister, slapped different reasoning behind their decisions.
But all came under fire from their fellow Our Ukraine-People’s Self-defense lawmakers, who had been persistently calling for the creation of the coalition.
The tensions will probably further escalate on Tuesday when Our Ukraine, which controls a majority of seats in the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-defense grouping, is due to hold an important political conference.
“I can’t get rid of the feeling that those who have refused to sign the agreement talk about one thing, but in fact mean something else,” Roman Zvarych, a senior Our Ukraine member, said.
Pliushch and Yekhanurov stated repeatedly that they would rather favor the creation of the grand coalition that would include Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych’s Regions Party, the largest single group in Parliament.
Zvarych argued that if Pliushch, Yekhanurov and other lawmakers refuse to join the coalition with the group led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, they should voluntarily quit Parliament.
“This would be an honest and courageous move,” Zvarych said.
The pro-Western coalition would control the slim majority of 228 seats in the 450-seat Parliament, so the refusal of the five to sign the agreement makes the coalition impossible.
The developments come days after all 72 lawmakers from Our Ukraine-People’s Self-defense, at a meeting with Yushchenko, pledged to support the pro-Western coalition.
Yekhanurov said Monday that he wanted to amend the coalition agreement with the Tymoshenko group.
Yekhanurov, who a liberal economist, said he was concerned about some of Tymoshenko’s controversial and populist initiatives, such as the plan to pay out quickly billions of hryvnias in debts owed on Soviet-time bank deposits. He also objects to the plans for canceling the value added tax in Ukraine.
Yekhanurov argued that both measures may spur inflation and undermine state finances in the country.
Ihor Kril, a close ally of Viktor Baloha, the chief of staff at the Yushchenko office, and an Our Ukraine member, also refused to sign the coalition agreement with the Tymoshenko group.
Kril argued that Our Ukraine-People’s Self-defense’s nomination of Viacheslav Kyrylenko for the speaker of Parliament, was not transparent. He urged Kyrylenko, who he accused of seeking to post at any cost, to withdraw his nomination.
“Let Kyrylenko withdraw from the nomination,” Kril said. “I am not against the democratic coalition, but I am against ripping out the posts.”(tl/ez)