Ukraine's coalition calls for talks to resolve parliament standoff

Iran Materials 30 June 2006 15:24 (UTC +04:00)

(AFP) - Ukraine's "orange" coalition have called on the pro-Russian opposition to sit down for talks to resolve a standoff that has paralyzed parliament and scuttled the forming of a new government three months after legislative elections.

"We are offering to start such a dialogue on Monday ... to try and find a way out of this situation," Roman Bezsmertnyi, a top coalition official, told reporters Friday, reports Trend.

The opposition Regions Party has this week kept parliament from convening by blocking the speaker's tribune and disconnecting the electronic system with which lawmakers register and vote.

The blockade scuttled a vote planned Thursday to confirm Yulia Tymoshenko as prime minister and elect a new parliament speaker.

Regions says that coalition's plans to hold a single vote for both posts violates parliament regulations, and wants to be given chairmanships of parliamentary committees.

It has vowed to keep up its protests for up to 30 days. If the legislature does not convene for 30 days, the president can dissolve it and call for new elections.

Officials from the coalition -- Tymoshenko's bloc, President Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine and the Socialists -- urged Regions to drop their ultimatum and sit down for a roundtable discussion.

"We don't accept the ultimatum as a way of communication in parliament," said Bezsmertnyi, the head of the Our Ukraine faction.

Regions, however, refused to budge.

"Our demands remain the same as yesterday," said Raisa Bogatyryova, a Regions deputy.

The standoff between the coalition and opposition -- forces who first clashed during the "orange revolution" presidential contest in late 2004 -- has left Ukraine mired in stalemate three months after a March parliamentary election.

The "orange" coalition controls 243 seats in the 450-member Upper Rada legislature and backs the president's plans to drive Ukraine toward the West.

Regions and their allies the Communists control the remaining 207 seats and favor keeping traditional close ties with Russia.