November 22, 2005

Sacked PM upstages Yushchenko at mass Ukraine rally

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's dismissed prime minister seized
the limelight from President Viktor Yushchenko a year after
Orange Revolution protests with an electrifying appeal on
Tuesday to join forces in next year's parliamentary election.

Both Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, the premier he sacked
in September, told supporters in Kiev's Independence Square
that only a united team of reformers could win the March 2006
election to a parliament led by a prime minister with expanded

But Tymoshenko's impassioned 20-minute address, delivered
without notes, clearly won over the crowd of more than 100,000
marking last year's mass protests which helped propel the
president to victory in the re-run of a rigged poll.

"I am certain that just as we supported Viktor Yushchenko
in the presidential election, we must now unite to elect a
prime minister who will embody everything we fought for,"
Tymoshenko, tears welling in her eyes, told the crowd.

"I want to dismiss all the rumors that it is Tymoshenko
versus Yushchenko. This cannot be so because this is the
president that you and I helped bring to power. We did it

Yushchenko, looking uncomfortable, eventually issued a
similar call at the end of a speech lasting nearly an hour.

"Do we want to win the 2006 parliamentary election? Yes, we
do!" Yushchenko said to modest applause from the crowd.

"This team standing behind me must be united must work
together and extend a hand to one another."

Yushchenko's dismissed his popular prime minister after
months of infighting had split his administration into two
camps, each accusing the other of corruption.

The dismissal dented the ratings of both leaders and
generated widespread disillusion among Ukrainians who had
supported the ideals of the mass protests against election

Opinion polls are led by the Regions Party of Viktor
Yanukovich, the rival Yushchenko defeated in last year's
lengthy election campaign. Parties linked to Tymoshenko and
Yushchenko lie in second and third position.