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President/PM divided over Constitution
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, April 17 - President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Thursday remained sharply divided over Ukraine's future constitutional amendments and the way the amendments must be approved.

Yushchenko said the amendments must be drafted by the National Constitutional Council, a 94-member panel he had created earlier this year. The body includes political leaders and prominent figures.

The comment is a response to plans by the Tymoshenko group, jointly with opposition Regions Party, to create a special commission in Parliament to draft the amendments.

"I wouldn't want to repeat the mistakes that we have made in 2004," Yushchenko said after attending a conference in Donetsk. "This would lead to confrontation."

Yushchenko fears the bi-partisan commission, and its amendments, would automatically establish a two-party political system in Ukraine between the Tymoshenko group and the Regions Party.

"The procedure of drafting, formulating and debating the amendments must be as wide as possible," Yushchenko said, defending the 94-member body.

But Yushchenko and Tymoshenko, who jointly control the pro-Western government coalition, also differed significantly on the quality of the amendments to be made.

As Yushchenko has been seeking to somewhat strengthen the authority of the president, and to balance out powers to prevent clashes with the government, Tymoshenko has recently revealed her group would push for creating Parliamentary political system, which would drastically reduce powers of the president.

"We have to make delimitation of powers and to make Ukraine a traditional Parliamentary republic as has been professed by the European experience," Tymoshenko said addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Consultations over such amendments had been already "underway" and "successful," Tymoshenko said without disclosing the names of potential political partners.

Our Ukraine-People's Self-defense, Yushchenko's group and Tymoshenko's only other partner in the coalition, has never supported the idea of making Ukraine a Parliamentary republic.

This suggests that Tymoshenko has been quietly holding the consultations with the Regions Party, an opposition group, which supports recent speculations the two had been seeking to join forces.

"My forecast? The constitutional amendments will be approved," Tymoshenko said. "This means that Ukraine will go through another stage towards democracy."

Meanwhile, the Tymoshenko group and the Regions Party might have made a secret plan of approving the amendments, perhaps even including a conspiracy, according to Parliamentary Speaker Arseniy Yatseniuk.

The secret plan apparently included a quick vote to elect a member of the Regions Party as a deputy speaker of Parliament who would have the authority to hold a parliamentary session.

Later, this deputy speaker, when Yatseniuk is on a trip, would call an emergency session and lawmakers would quickly vote to approve the amendments, effectively bypassing Our Ukraine-People's Self-defense and the president.

"This is not even an intrigue. Calling this an intrigue would be too small," Yatseniuk said. "This is a large-scale political fraud."

"This scenario will not go through," Yatseniuk said. (tl/ez)




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