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Ukrainian parliament to meet for urgent session after ruling coalition breakup

If a new coalition of at least 226 deputies is not formed within a month, the president can dissolve the parliament and announce early elections

KIEV, July 25 /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament) will convene for an urgent session on Friday in order to try to decide how to handle the crisis after the breakup of the ruling coalition and the failure to adopt crucial government bills.

The Rada on Thursday voted to disband the communist faction. Parliament Speaker Alexander Turchinov said, “The faction consisted of 33 lawmakers and when ten of them left, there remained too few of them for the faction to function. We have corrected a historical mistake and I hope that the communist ideology will never exist in our society again.”

Deputies from the Svoboda, UDAR and Batkivshchina factions applauded the decision and then left the room for closed-door consultations with the speaker on the government bills. Having obviously failed to come to agreement, Vitaly Kovalchuk, head of the UDAR faction, announced the faction’s withdrawal from the pro-government coalition.

“The UDAR party announces its secession from the parliamentary coalition. This will allow the president to dissolve the Verkhovna Rada and announce early parliamentary elections,” he said.

Svoboda leader Oleg Tyagnibok, independent candidate Sergei Mishchenko and Anatoly Kinakh of the Economic Development group followed suit. The latter said pre-term elections will “help to reset the system of power” in Ukraine. 

Turchinov then officially declared the end of the coalition which had been created after the change of power in February and consisted of 262 deputies from Batkivshchina, UDAR, Svovoda and several deputies’ groups that joined them.

If a new coalition of at least 226 deputies is not formed within a month, the president can dissolve the parliament and announce early elections. They may be set for October 26.

Poroshenko welcomed the deputies’ decision to leave the coalition. “All public opinion polls and direct contacts with people indicate that society wants full reset of power,” he said but warned that “these steps must not paralyse the work of the parliament”.

After a break, the parliament failed to pass two crucial government bills. One amends tax legislation to reduce budget spending by 10 billion hryvnias (0.9 billion U.S. dollars) and raise the mineral production tax to receive an additional 21 billion hryvnias (about 2 billion U.S. dollars) in revenue. The other bill proposed a reform plan for the country’s gas transportation system.

Parliament-appointed Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk responded right away by announcing his resignation

“In connection with the breakup of the parliamentary coalition, as well as non-adoption of a number of important bills, I announce my resignation,” Yatsenyuk said in parliament.

“What happened today in parliament will have very complicated, if not dramatic, consequences for the country,” he said, adding, “It is good if I am mistaken.” .

He said Ukraine was living through a critical time. “This is a difficult decision and a difficult time, not for me personally, but for the country as a whole. This is not the best government in the history of the country, but at least it did what it could and as best it could, as our parents taught us and as we saw proper. Am I satisfied with my own work? Certainly not. But did we do everything we could? Yes, we did,” Yatsenyuk said.

He stressed that the breakup of the coalition and the shortage of money in the budget were unacceptable. “That the coalition broke up today and there is no money to pay salaries, fuel armoured personnel carriers and keep the army is unacceptable. What can be done in this situation? Option one: the coalition falls apart and the prime minister begins to form a new coalition, that is, with communists and the Party of Regions. I will never do that. Another option is to resign. So I announce my resignation in connection with the breakup of the coalition and the blocking of the government initiatives,” Yatsenyuk said.

Parliament Speaker Alexander Turchinov instructed the deputies to begin consultations on the appointment of an interim prime minister.

But the situation is somewhat controversial. Under law, the parliament has to vote for or against the prime minister’s resignation. But there may not be enough votes in the Rada now.

Pavel Rozenko of UDAR told journalists that “it takes 226 votes to accept the premier’s resignation. But the Rada does not and is unlikely to have these votes. All this talk about an interim premier is nothing but sheer politicking.”

Yatsenyuk’s resignation automatically means the resignation of the whole government, but it will continue working until a new coalition is formed.