(RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's president announced Wednesday that the roundtable talks he had initiated between leading politicians to overcome a four-month political standoff had failed.
Western-leaning President Viktor Yushchenko, who has only a few hours to decide whether to nominate his former "orange revolution" opponent Viktor Yanukovych for the premiership, had urged leaders of the parliamentary majority led by Yanukovych's pro-Russian Party of Regions to sign a unity pact on key policy areas, while threatening to break up parliament and call new elections if they failed to do so, reports Trend.
"Unfortunately the national unity agreement has not been signed, as the main five political forces of Ukraine could not reach an understanding on the key priorities of the Ukrainian Constitution and national development," Viktor Yushchenko said.
Yushchenko also held consultations on the dissolution of the Supreme Rada with leaders of parliamentary factions. His press service said he would act in compliance with the provisions of the Constitution.
The 15-day deadline for the president to sign off the premier's nomination expires on Wednesday at midnight local time (9:00 p.m. GMT).
Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz has gathered 303 lawmakers for an extraordinary session in the Supreme Rada, where deputies now await the president's announcement.
The president's press secretary, Irina Gerashchenko, said earlier that Yushchenko would announce his decision on the chamber's fate in a statement on national TV this evening.
Yanukovych's candidacy is backed by a parliamentary majority comprising the Party of Regions, the Socialist Party, and the Communists, formed after the Socialists defected from the former "orange" majority, led by former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko's eponymous bloc.
Yanukovych, who Yushchenko defeated in a 2004 re-run of the presidential election following street protests against election-rigging that came to be known as the "orange revolution", said after the roundtable consultations that he didn't expect the president to dissolve parliament, and that Yushchenko was likely to approve his candidacy.
"I do not believe that the president will sign a decree to cancel the authority of the Supreme Rada," he said
However, Tymoshenko and Petro Symonenko, who heads the Communist Party, said after the "unity" consultations that there was a strong possibility that president would disband parliament.
Through the roundtable talks on signing the unity pact, the president had hoped to ensure that the government continued to pursue his reformist goals for Ukraine, including joining NATO and securing Ukrainian as the sole national language, ideas that have been strongly resisted by the Party of Regions.
A senior member of the Party of Regions warned Monday that if Yushchenko calls new elections, the party, which believes it would win a major victory in new elections, would be able to impeach the president.