Tue, May 08, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Yushchenko faces tricky task of ironing out a compromise

AFP , KIEV

After clinching victory over his rival, Viktor Yanukovych, in a constitutional feud, pro-Western Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko faced a tricky task yesterday to pin down details of their compromise.

Officials from the rival camps, Yushchenko's and Prime Minister Yanukovych's, were expected to put forward their proposals for a special session of parliament after they ended their month-long row on Friday.

Outside powers have closely watched the struggle, anxious about the political course of this country of 47 million people which lies between the EU and NATO to the west and Russia to the east.

Yushchenko has declared joining NATO a key objective while Yanukovych opposes the idea.

The special session reconvening parliament is required to decide arrangements for holding parliamentary elections.

It was Yushchenko's decision to dissolve parliament on April 2 and to hold fresh elections that sparked a political crisis as Yanukovych tried to resist by bringing his supporters onto the streets.

Yushchenko had watched with alarm as the pro-Russian governing coalition in parliament tried to undermine him by reducing his powers and luring deputies into switching sides.

Under Friday's deal, Yushchenko is expected to try to use the parliamentary session to secure several political goals in addition to fixing an election date.

The deal foresees a reaffirmation by parliament of Yushchenko's Western course, a ban on deputies switching sides and the annulment of a law that reduced the president's powers.

But analysts said the prime minister's camp might yet blanch at those demands, while the election date is a contentious subject.

If, as Yushchenko proposes, parliament meets today, elections would be due within 60 days and would thus be likely around the start of July.

But the governing coalition has said it would prefer a date in the autumn.

"The negotiations will be very difficult," political analyst Mikhailo Pogrebinsky said.

"They'll probably last a week ... I don't think the coalition will make additional concessions apart from adopting the documents on the elections," he said.

Analyst Vadim Karasyov, of the Institute of Global Strategies, predicted that Yushchenko would seek the government's resignation in exchange for agreeing to an autumn date.

The pro-presidential parties have been boosted by Yushchenko's out-gunning of Yanukovych, which he did through such wiles as dismissing two constitutional court judges and a prosecutor general considered loyal to the prime minister.

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