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Ukraine’s pro-Western government on brink of collapse

Posted by seumasach on September 3, 2008

Yahoo
KIEV (AFP) – The party of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko decided to quit the pro-Western governing coalition on Wednesday, plunging Ukraine into a new political crisis as relations with Russia worsened.

Leaders of Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party were due to announce their decision officially to parliament at around 0700 GMT and were expected to hold talks with the president starting from 0900 GMT.

The decision would come into force in 10 days if maintained. It was approved by a narrow majority of 39 out of the party’s 72 deputies in the parliament, Ukrainian media reported, citing officials.

The move came in response to the adoption on Tuesday of a series of laws that would weaken the powers of the president, laws initiated by the pro-Russian opposition in league with the Tymoshenko Bloc.

The Tymoshenko Bloc is headed by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is sharply at odds with the president, despite broadly sharing his pro-Western political goals.

In a heated parliament session on Tuesday, the Ukrainian president’s party stormed out of the chamber in protest at the adoption of the laws, which would also ease the rules for impeaching the president, Ukrainian media reported.

In a sign of deepening divisions, the ruling coalition on Tuesday also failed to agree a joint declaration about the war between Russia and Georgia, which like Ukraine is bidding to join NATO and the European Union.

Yushchenko has accused Tymoshenko of “high treason and political corruption” for allegedly siding with Moscow over the conflict in Georgia last month, a charge she has denied.

If the pro-Western allies Our Ukraine and Tymoshenko Bloc do not get back together and the decision to split comes into effect, members of parliament would have a further 30 days to form another coalition government.

The president would have the right to dissolve parliament if talks failed.

Tymoshenko has long had rocky relations with Yushchenko despite their alliance in the peaceful protests known as the Orange Revolution of 2004.

She is believed to be planning to run against Yushchenko for president in elections due in 2009 or 2010.

Tymoshenko abstained from a vote in Ukraine’s Security Council last month imposing restrictions on the movements of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, which is based in southern Ukraine and was involved in military action against Georgia.

European officials including French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn have warned Ukraine could be the next target of political pressure from Russia in its mounting stand-off with the West.

US Vice President Dick Cheney was due to visit Kiev this week as part of a four-nation tour to support US allies Georgia and Ukraine. Cheney arrived in oil-rich Azerbaijan on Wednesday at the start of his tour.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080903/wl_afp/ukrainepoliticsgovernment_080903072007link

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