KIEV, March 20 – President Viktor Yushchenko met Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Thursday to try to persuade her to agree to a single candidate from the governing coalition to run at the Kiev mayoral election in June.
“We have discussed this issue with the prime minister today,” Yushchenko said in an interview with the First National television aired on Thursday. “The coalition will be nominating a single candidate.”
Tymoshenko made no comments after the meeting with Yushchenko. On Wednesday she said her party would nominate its own candidate, a move that may split the coalition.
The meeting on the issue underscores the importance that the leading political figures attach to the election of the mayor of Kiev, Ukraine’s biggest and the wealthiest city.
Control over Kiev might appear to be a key factor for a leader running at the next presidential election in Ukraine due late 2009. Tymoshenko and Yushchenko are seen as potential rivals that may clash at the election, explaining the importance both attach to the upcoming mayor election.
Tymoshenko, whose party enjoys the greatest popular support in Kiev, has been seeking to capitalize on that support by winning the mayor election and the biggest number of seats in the Kiev council, the local Parliament.
Tymoshenko on Thursday rejected speculations that her party might join forces with Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine-People’s Self-defense while running for the seats in the council.
“We will run with separate party lists,” Tymoshenko said, admitting that an effort must be made to agree on future common policy in Kiev. “We have at least a week for all the discussions.”
The key political groups are preparing for the election after Parliament, led by the Tymoshenko group, has voted Tuesday to oust controversial Mayor Leonid Chernovetskiy.
Tymsohenko accused Chernovetskiy of corruption while privatizing what she had estimated as $3 billion worth of land plots in the city over the past six months. Chernovetskiy denied the charges.
Meanwhile, Yushchenko on Thursday complained that lawmakers should have waited until a special commission completes an investigation into the allegations, before approving the resolution calling for the snap vote.
“It would be worth waiting until the commission delivers report,” Yushchenko said. “When we are talking about dismissing this person or another, one must be guided exceptionally by law. Then we wouldn’t have a filling that political factors, not legal ones, dominated while taking the decision.” (tl/ez)