Monday, June 12, 2006

All hope dies as Ukraine faces a major constitutional crisis

Kyiv Post update

Ukrainian president's party: continuing coalition talks with Socialists is hopeless

Jun 12 2006, 17:05

(AP) President Viktor Yushchenko's political party said Monday it saw no point in continuing talks with the Socialists on forming a governing coalition, possibly signaling the imminent collapse of 11 weeks of negotiations to reunite Ukraine's Orange Revolution allies.

The sticking point has been the job of parliamentary speaker, which both Our Ukraine and the Socialists have demanded.

"In connection with the Socialist Party's ultimatum relating to the post of parliamentary speaker, Our Ukraine considers future talks to form a coalition as pointless," Yushchenko's party said in a statement.

The Socialists were "acting irresponsibility before the Ukrainian people," the party said.

Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz, who is his party's candidate for the speaker's job, countered that Our Ukraine had constantly shifting conditions that set the talks up for failure. He called on Yushchenko to intervene personally.

The failure by the three parties that supported the 2004 Orange Revolution to reach an agreement has left this ex-Soviet republic effectively rudderless, with neither the Cabinet nor parliament fully functioning. The disarray prompted U.S. President George W. Bush to put off a visit to Ukraine this month.

The parties halted talks on Saturday, and face a self-imposed Wednesday deadline to present an agreement to parliament.

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who would get her old job back if the coalition forms, has accused Our Ukraine of purposely trying to sabotage the talks so it can pull out and form a coalition with the top vote-getter in the March parliamentary elections - the pro-Russian Party of Regions.

Yushchenko fired Tymoshenko eight months into his presidency, plunging their two parties into a bitter rivalry that has raised questions over whether they can reunite.

Initially, Tymoshenko's reappointment had been seen as the biggest obstacle, but Our Ukraine has acceded to Tymoshenko's demand that she become prime minister, while claiming the parliamentary speaker's job for itself.

The Socialists argue, however, that for the coalition to work, it must represent a balance of power, which could be achieved by them having the speaker's job.

Tymoshenko's bloc won more seats than Our Ukraine or the Socialists combined.