Ukraine parliament in make-or-break session to end crisis
( AFP ) - Efforts to end the constitutional crisis in Ukraine faced a make-or-break session in parliament on Wednesday with lawmakers scheduled to vote on measures paving the way for early legislative elections.
The voting follow a deal between President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych on Sunday in which the two rivals agreed to hold polls on September 30.
Once parliament has passed the relevant measures, including one on financing the elections and another on Ukraine's bid to join the World Trade Organization, Yushchenko will formally set the general election date.
The president suspended previous orders to dissolve parliament to allow lawmakers to sit Tuesday and Wednesday.
"The two days given by the president for the adoption of these laws will be a test of political responsibility for the parliament," the president's office said in a statement earlier.
Analysts have warned that the deal between the feuding president and prime minister to end a two-month power struggle could still fall apart because of discord between their respective allies in parliament.
The parliamentary votes include budget measures to finance the elections and changes to the make-up of the central electoral commission to allow greater representation for members of Yanukovych's ruling Regions party.
Parliament is also due to vote on bills easing Ukraine's bid to join the WTO -- a key goal for the pro-Western Yushchenko that has been opposed by allies of the more pro-Russian Yanukovych.
The crisis in Ukraine began on April 2, when Yanukovych defied orders from Yushchenko to hold early elections, issued after what the president called a power grab by the prime minister's allies in parliament.
International powers, including the European Union and the United States, have expressed concern at the situation and welcomed Sunday's political agreement as a democratic achievement.
There are several other points of contention between Yushchenko and Yanukovych, however, including the appointment of the prosecutor general and the composition of Ukraine's constitutional court.
The dispute over the prosecutor, who has been sacked by Yushchenko but is supported by Yanukovych, led to scuffles on Thursday between elite troops loyal to the prime minister and the presidential security service.