July 15, 2006

Yushchenko to parties: sign deal or face poll

By Ron Popeski

KIEV (Reuters) - President Viktor Yushchenko, vowing to
keep Ukraine from plunging into anarchy, on Saturday gave
bickering politicians 10 days to form a government or face
dissolution of parliament and a new parliamentary election.

Ukraine has functioned for nearly four months with neither
a full-fledged government nor a working parliament after a
March election produced an inconclusive result.

The chamber, disrupted by protests led by deputies both
allied and opposed to the pro-Western Yushchenko, has been
largely in recess amid successive rounds of coalition talks.

A three-party coalition behind the "Orange Revolution" that
thrust Yushchenko into power in 2004 collapsed this month.

Formed in its place was a grouping led by the Regions Party
of Viktor Yanukovich, the Moscow-backed figure Yushchenko
defeated in the revolution's aftermath. But the president this
week said his nomination as prime minister was

In a weekly radio address, Yushchenko called for new
efforts at compromise, but said he was ready to resort to

"The president's right to dissolve parliament is his final
argument, to be used if parliament and political parties fail
to comprehend their responsibility before Ukraine," he said.

"As a head of state who understands the cost of such a
step, I hope politicians will find the wisdom to produce a
compromise by July 25...

"I will allow no anarchy or chaos. Nor will I allow actions
to the advantage of those working against Ukraine's interests.
I will not permit the country to be torn asunder by

Yushchenko had initially opposed dissolution, an option
open to him under constitutional changes that reduced his


His chief of staff, Oleg Rybachuk, also said at the weekend
that a new election was possible if no cabinet able to tackle
Ukraine's longstanding divisions between the industrial
Russian-speaking east and the nationalist west could be formed.

Yanukovich made a comeback after his humiliation in 2004 --
his party, which finished first in the March poll, is allied in
the new prospective coalition with Socialists and Communists.

Leaders of his Regions Party say they are willing to bypass
the president to secure Yanukovich's endorsement by parliament.

Lawyers say most disputes are rooted in the reforms
approved during the revolution to ease tension. Yushchenko
wants them put to the Constitutional Court, but the opposition
has blocked nominations to the court.

Among the options now being considered by politicians is a
"broad coalition" bringing together some members of the
president's Our Ukraine party with Yanukovich's Regions Party.

Its advocates say this could heal rifts between the east,
Yanukovich's power base, and western regions which distrust

Two parties still backing an "orange" coalition -- Our
Ukraine and the bloc of ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko --
have been impeding parliamentary activity for a week.

Tymoshenko, who stood to be restored as premier in an
"orange" team, says only a new election can solve the crisis.

"We must not under any circumstances be afraid of giving
the people the right to settle this matter," she told the
weekly Zerkalo Nedeli. "Our people are a lot smarter and wiser
than many people give them credit for."