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Ukrainian president tells supporters that he won't back down from early elections

Ukrainian president tells supporters that he won't back down from early elections

President Viktor Yushchenko on Saturday took his battle with the prime minister to the streets for the first time in Ukraine's four-week-old political crisis, rallying supporters and promising not to back down from his demand for early parliamentary elections.
Yushchenko's appearance at the rally in a central Kiev square was a bold gesture that could aggravate the political crisis that has seized this ex-Soviet republic since the president's April 2 decree dissolving parliament and announcing snap elections. Premier Viktor Yanukovych has refused to act on the decree and challenged it in the Constitutional Court.
"Early elections will take place," Yushchenko told some 40,000 flag-waving supporters. "It is the inevitable answer that all political forces will reach."
Previously, the president has tried to present himself as above the political fray amid rival rallies and marches in the capital; he had even scolded Yanukovych for calling out his supporters to Kiev's Independence Square.
However, with this appearance, he threw himself firmly on the side of the parties in opposition to Yanukovych. Greeting by chanting supporters, he appealed to them to unite and fight for the June 24 election together.
Earlier Saturday, Yanukovych signaled he was willing to compromise on holding early parliamentary elections. But Yanukovych said the decision must come out of political negotiations _ not be forced by presidential decree.
"If we sit down and come to the conclusion that we have to hold elections, then such a decision will be taken," Yanukovych told reporters. "But then it will ... be based on political consultations and agreements. Then we will go to our voters and say here is the situation."
Still, it was unclear how far Yanukovych was willing to move toward compromise. On Friday, he suggested holding early parliamentary elections simultaneously with an early presidential vote _ something Yushchenko is unlikely to agree to.
Yushchenko defended his decision to dissolve parliament, likening it to the 2004 Orange Revolution when hundreds of thousands flooded Kiev's streets to protest against a fraud-marred presidential election re-count. The Supreme Court ultimately threw out Yanukovych's victory and ordered a revote, which Yushchenko won.
This time, "votes aren't being manipulated," but parliament is, he said.
Among the main causes for the current crisis were deputies elected under one party flag crossing over from the opposition to Yanukovych's majority coalition _ an act Yushchenko said was a revision of voters' will.
"It is a coarse breach of the Constitution," he said. "It is political corruption and we must not forgive it."
Yushchenko announced earlier this week that he was postponing the date for elections to June 24. His allies presented it as a conciliatory move to give all parties more time to prepare for the vote. But the move was widely perceived as en effort to preempt a decision by the Constitutional Court, which had begun deliberations into whether his April 2 decree was constitutional.
Yushchenko now says that decree is no longer valid and has been replaced by the new one.
"I haven't lost my faith in Yushchenko _ he is doing what's right for the country," said protester Kateryna Kryulozovska, 55.


Updated : 2021-03-04 01:42 GMT+08:00