Fri, Apr 06, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Ukrainian president tries to quell rebellion

STALEMATE The opposition called upon the government and parliament to stand firm against Yushchenko's order to dissolve government and hold early elections

AFP , KIEV

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko moved to quell a political rebellion against his rule yesterday amid trenchant opposition to his order to dissolve parliament and hold early elections.

The president was scheduled to meet the country's security council in an emergency session to discuss the crisis after a round of consultations with Ukrainian regional leaders and top European officials.

Hundreds of anti-Yushchenko protesters meanwhile spent a third night camped outside the parliament building and vowed again to mass thousands into the streets of central Kiev.

"We want stability, we want calm," said Lyudmila Shalenko, 49, who had a flag of the Regions party of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych wrapped around her shoulders as she stood by the parliament.

"We will stand until the end," said another protester, Nina Antonovna, 65.

Yushchenko's arch rival Yanukovych, who leads a pro-Russian coalition, has called on the government and parliament to stand firm against the president's orders and await a decision by the constitutional court.

A court ruling on the legality of Yushchenko's order is expected within a month and the court is was set to outline yesterday the procedure it will adopt for considering the appeal filed by Yanukovych supporters.

Both men have sought to bolster their support in the current power struggle.

Since issuing his order on Monday after a months-long stalemate with Yanukovych, the president has spoken to the EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Council of Europe Secretary-General Terry Davis.

Yanukovych meanwhile has met foreign ambassadors in Kiev, has addressed the cabinet and his supporters in the streets and was due to give a briefing about the crisis to foreign journalists yesterday.

Ukraine has been stuck in a political impasse since parliamentary elections in March last year that brought Yanukovych to power after a coalition formed after the Yushchenko-led Orange Revolution mass protests of 2004 collapsed.

The Orange Revolution saw Yushchenko win out against Yanukovych after his Moscow-backed rival's presidential election victory was scrapped because of vote-rigging.

For many Yanukovych supporters, who are concentrated in the Russian-speaking east of the country, the current crisis is a way of getting back at pro-Western Yushchenko for the Orange Revolution.

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