Ukrainian president threatens to call snap elections

Ukraine's president Viktor Yushchenko has accused PM Yulia Tymoshenko of joining forces with rival factions and causing the country's ruling coalition to collapse. In a televised statement, he threatened to call snap elections.


KIEV, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Ukraine's President Viktor
Yushchenko threatened on Wednesday to call a snap parliamentary
poll, saying the coalition government had collapsed.

Yushchenko accused Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko of
joining forces with rival factions after months of bickering
between them and their parties which constitute the coalition.

Tymoshenko said it was Yushchenko who had wrecked the
coalition and her party said it was not looking for new

Yushchenko said in a televised statement that if a new
governing coalition could not be formed, "I will use my right to
dismiss parliament and announce early elections."

That would be the third parliamentary election in as many
years since the 2004 "Orange Revolution", which swept Yushchenko
to power on a ticket of greater Western integration including
joining NATO and the European Union.

His office accused Tymoshenko of betraying Ukraine during
the Georgian conflict by not backing Tbilisi, as Yushchenko did,
when Russian troops marched into South Ossetia last month.

Politicians at home and abroad warned Ukraine could be the
Kremlin's next target. Analysts have said, although a Russian
invasion is extremely unlikely, a divided political elite in
Ukraine would spell trouble for relations with Moscow.

Yushchenko has accused Tymoshenko of joining forces with the
Regions Party of former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich -- who
lost against Yushchenko in the 2004 presidential election which
had to be rerun after it was deemed fraudulent.

Yushchenko's accusation came after members from Tymoshenko's
bloc and the Regions party voted together on late on Tuesday to
reduce the powers of the president. The president has to sign
the new laws for them to come to force.


All three politicians are expected to run in a presidential
election due in 16 months. Analysts see the constant rowing
between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko, which has brought reforms to
a standstill, as political manoeuvring ahead of the poll.

"It is obvious that he (Yushchenko) is following his own
aims, that he is defending his future prospects, that he still
hopes for success at the presidential elections," independent
analyst Olexander Dergachyov said.

Polls have shown that Tymoshenko would win a presidential
election, with Yushchenko coming last. In a parliamentary
election, she would increase her seats, while Yushchenko's Our
Ukraine party would lose some.

"The president and his office have used every means to ruin
the coalition," Tymoshenko told a cabinet meeting. "It is a pity
that the president is behaving irresponsibly. The coalition
split yesterday, on his own decision."

Later, her party said Yushchenko's actions were directly
linked to his presidential aspirations and called on the
president's party and a third party also in the coalition not to
"fall for provocation".

Under the constitution, the two parties have 10 days to sort
out their differences and revive the coalition. If they cannot
do so, parliament has 30 days to form a new coalition. After
that, the president can call a new parliamentary election.

Mustering a majority of 331 seats out of 450, her bloc and
the Regions party passed a law which enables the government to
ignore the president's decrees if it interrupts its work.

Yushchenko's decrees over the past nine months has halted
the privatisation of several large state firms. The government
had been relying on revenues from the sell-offs for its budget.

The fighting between the two has prevented the government
from adopting a unified approach to inflation -- which soared to
over 30 percent in May and is still high at 26 percent, and
divided the central bank as it revalued the currency.

Financial markets reacted sharply to the crisis -- Kiev's
PFTS stock market index fell 3.8 percent, and there was a sharp
rise in the cost of insuring against Ukraine' defaulting on its
debt. Credit rating agency Fitch said foreign investment could
be reduced.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning