Ukraine Premier fails to form alliance to oppose President

Ukraine Premier fails to form alliance to oppose President

“He unilaterally, without warning anyone, quit the negotiation process, making a loud political statement, killing the merger and the chances for Ukraine,” Ms. Tymoshenko said...

Prime Minister Yulia V. Tymoshenko of Ukraine acknowledged Sunday night that talks to create an alliance between her party and opposition forces in Parliament had collapsed, putting an end to her plan to undercut her former ally, President Viktor A. Yushchenko.

In a televised address, Ms. Tymoshenko said she had hoped to build a broad coalition to address the economic crisis, which has severely affected Ukraine. But she accused the opposition leader in Parliament, Viktor F. Yanukovych, a former prime minister, of betraying her.

“He unilaterally, without warning anyone, quit the negotiation process, making a loud political statement, killing the merger and the chances for Ukraine,” Ms. Tymoshenko said.

She reiterated that she would run for president in the next election, which is likely to be in January.

Her announcement capped several weeks of renewed political intrigue in Ukraine, which has faced instability since the Orange Revolution of 2004 brought to power a pro-Western government led by Ms. Tymoshenko and Mr. Yushchenko.

On Friday, in a move orchestrated by Ms. Tymoshenko, Parliament voted to remove the defense minister, Yuri Yekhanurov, who was appointed by the president, an indication of how strained relations have become between the president and the prime minister.

Ms. Tymoshenko had been privately holding discussions with Mr. Yanukovych over a proposal to alter the structure of the federal government. The plan would have required that the president be elected by Parliament, not popularly elected, as in the current system.

After Ms. Tymoshenko attacked Mr. Yanukovych on Sunday night, he responded that while he saw the merits in a multiparty government, he had severe doubts about doing away with a popularly elected president.

The prime minister’s plan had drawn harsh criticism from Mr. Yushchenko, who referred to it as a constitutional coup.

Mr. Yanukovych, who has good relations with the Kremlin, was the loser in the Orange Revolution, but he has maintained a power base in the Russian-speaking eastern part of the country. All three political leaders are expected to vie in the next presidential election; Mr. Yanukovych and Ms. Tymoshenko lead in the polls.

Mr. Yushchenko’s popularity has plunged in recent years, and it appears that he has little chance of winning re-election.

By Clifford J. Levy, The New York Times

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