Ukraine leader demands Parliament rescind vote

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko demanded on Thursday that Parliament rescind its vote taken earlier in the week to sack his pro-Western government.

“Today I signed an appeal to Parliament demanding that it rescind the unconstitutional decision to fire the current government,” Yushchenko said as he opened an extraordinary meeting of the sacked Cabinet.

The president said that lawmakers who supported a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Yury Yekhanurov’s government on Tuesday did so “in order to form an unstable situation in Ukraine”.

The standoff between the president and the legislature comes less than three months ahead of a March 26 parliamentary election, which will decide the fate of Yushchenko’s vow to drive ex-Soviet Ukraine toward membership in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato).

How the crisis between the president and Parliament will be resolved is uncertain.

The constitutional court, which would ordinarily mediate, is unable to convene because the legislature has baulked at scheduling a swearing-in session for a raft of new judges.

Yushchenko earlier vowed to abide by the Constitution and to “not resort to pressuring Parliament”.

The crisis has provoked concern in the West, which backed Yushchenko during the “orange revolution” protests that ousted Ukraine’s previous Russia-backed regime.

Lawmakers behind Tuesday’s no confidence vote have said they objected to a controversial deal that the Cabinet struck with Russia in early January to end a standoff over gas supplies, which saw prices for Ukraine nearly double.

But most pundits and politicians here say that deal served as a pretext for the opposition to strike a blow against Yushchenko and his allies ahead of the election. – AFP

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