(AP) - Ukraine's new parliamentary majority missed a midnight deadline to form a new government, with President Viktor Yushchenko giving no indication he is ready yet to nominate his former Orange Revolution rival to be the next prime minister.
Under the Constitution, the new lawmakers elected in the March parliamentary vote had 60 days from their first session to form a government - a deadline that expired at midnight (2100 GMT Monday). But the pro-Russian coalition, which has nominated Viktor Yanukovych to be prime minister, cannot act until the president gives formal approval to the nomination, reports Trend.
With the deadline passed, the president can legally dissolve the 450-seat parliament and call new elections.
However, he said earlier that his authority to dissolve parliament is a right and not an obligation.
Yushchenko said he also is entitled to time to consider a prime ministerial candidate, giving him until Aug. 2 to decide on Yanukovych's candidacy.
Yanukovych, whom Yushchenko defeated for the presidency in a court-ordered revote in 2004, suggested his party would be patient, up to a point.
"We will wait as long as is specified under the law," Yanukovych said in televised remarks on July 24.
"But in my opinion, the question has been dragged out," he was also quoted as saying according to the Unian news agency. Adam Martynyuk, first deputy parliament speaker and a member of the new coalition, accused Yushchenko of artificially delaying "to justify himself before society ... and to get more."
Some members of the coalition have said that parliament could go ahead and approve Yanukovych as prime minister, without the president. The president's office has warned that would be illegal.
This former Soviet nation has been embroiled in political crisis since Yanukovych trounced Yushchenko's party in March parliamentary elections and formed a parliamentary majority with the Communists and Socialists.
The strong performance of the pro-Russian opposition reflected disillusionment at the sluggish economy and a split within the reformist pro-Western team that came to power after the 2004 mass protests over election fraud known as the Orange Revolution.
The new coalition, with its support base in the Russian-speaking east, could slow down Yushchenko's efforts to drag Kyiv out of Moscow's shadow and into NATO and the European Union, some analysts say.
Some of Yushchenko's allies have called on the president to dissolve parliament and on Monday Yulia Tymoshenko, a key Orange Revolution figure, said all 125 lawmakers in her faction - the second biggest in parliament - were ready to surrender their seats. Tymoshenko has said that if 151 lawmakers give up their seats, it would make parliament illegitimate and the president could dissolve it on that basis.
However, members of Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc have said they don't support such a move.