Ukraine leader threatens to call snap election

President Yanukovich warned he would call a snap election if a court ruled that a coalition supporting him in parliament had been formed illegally.

Ukraine leader threatens to call snap election

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich warned on Friday he would call a snap parliamentary election if a court ruled that a coalition supporting him in parliament had been formed illegally.

His comment to European parliamentarians appeared aimed at assuring Ukraine's Western partners of his democratic credentials in the face of criticism that he played fast and loose with the constitution to secure a government of old friends and allies.

But, though it amounted to a restatement of previous remarks, Yanukovich's threat nonetheless revived political tension after last month's fraught contest for president from which he narrowly emerged the winner.

The ex-Soviet republic of 46 million people is in great need of international financial help and confidence to overcome the effects of the global downturn which has hit its main export markets of steel and chemicals.

Analysts say a new election would only push back prospects for a quick return to political stability and delay resumption of co-operation with the International Monetary Fund, whose credit helped Ukraine avoid default through much of last year.

At issue is a last-minute amendment to the parliamentary fine print governing formation of coalitions which suddenly paved the way earlier this month for Mykola Azarov -- a close ally of Yanukovich -- to come in as prime minister.

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Yanukovich's bitter rival whom he beat in the runoff for president, this month dubbed the amendment a "constitutional coup d'etat" and it is now being considered by Ukraine's Constitutional Court.

"If the decision of the Constitutional Court is that the coalition was formed illegally, then I will take a decision on a snap election," Yanukovich told a delegation from the European Parliament.

"I will never go down the path of breaching the constitution that is in force," he said.

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Yanukovich said the 18-judge Constitutional Court had begun reviewing the case. It was unclear when it could issue a ruling. On urgent matters the court rules within weeks but on matters deemed less urgent it can take months or even longer.

Analysts said that after Tymoshenko's failed attempt to smear Yanukovich and prove in court that his camp had cheated in the Feb. 7 runoff the president was eager to show he was acting within the law.

"This is an excuse for demonstrating his adherence to the supremacy of law," said Yuri Yakimenko of the Razumkov centre for political analysis.

The next scheduled parliamentary election is slated for Autumn 2012. An early poll could produce unpredictable changes to the political landscape and would be very dangerous for the prospects of many deputies including Yanukovich's Regions Party.

"The Regions Party has no interest in new elections," said Yakimenko.

Yanukovich's comment came as an IMF mission negotiated with the government over prospects of resuming a $16.4 billion bailout programme, suspended last November over Kiev's broken spending promises.

The hryvnia has strengthened, bond yields have dropped as has the cost of insuring against a Ukrainian default since the election of Yanukovich and the installation of a new government because investors see a period of political stability ahead.

A snap election would erode those gains, analysts say.

Under the old rules of forming a coalition, parties in parliament had to agree as a whole to join a coalition. Parliament voted to change that to allow individual members of parties to join a coalition in the hope of making up an overall majority.

Yanukovich's supporters in parliament found themselves in a difficult position after his election victory as they were unable to woo enough parties to form a new coalition that would oust Tymoshenko.

But after the change, they were able to muster a slender majority of 235 members from the 450-seat assembly by poaching several supporters of former president Viktor Yushchenko.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Mart 2010, 10:03