Sunday, April 16, 2006

Ukraine's 'orange revolution' allies sign coalition pact

KIEV : Ukraine's estranged "orange revolution" allies Thursday signed an agreement in principle to reunite in a coalition following parliamentary elections, with the key question of who will become the next prime minister still undecided.

"We declare our intention to create a coalition of democratic forces," read the framework agreement penned by President Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine, the bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko, and the Socialists.

The document lays out steps the trio will take on their way to formally creating a majority coalition in parliament after the newly-elected chamber convenes for its first session, according to a copy of the pact provided by Our Ukraine.

The three blocs together will control 243 seats in the 450-member Upper Rada legislature following a March 26 parliamentary ballot.

But it remained unclear whether Tymoshenko would return to head the government.

"Let's not name any names... everything in due course," Roman Bezsmertnyi, a top Our Ukraine official told reporters after the signing.

The fiery "orange revolution" heroine split with the Ukrainian president after he fired her as premier last September and has demanded a return to the premiership in any union after she drubbed Yushchenko's party in the March ballot.

Analysts in Kiev say Yushchenko opposes Tymoshenko's premiership because he doesn't trust the ambitious and charismatic politician.

The election was won by the pro-Russian opposition Regions Party, which will have 186 seats in the chamber. Tymoshenko's bloc will have 129, Our Ukraine 81, the Socialists 33, and the Communists, a likely Regions ally, will get 21 seats.

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