Ukraine government delays elections to handle finance crisis

October 21st, 2008 - 3:34 am ICT by IANS  

Kiev, Oct 21 (DPA) Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko Monday announced a one-week delay in early elections, citing a need to give the present government to deal with a financial crisis.The nationwide vote for a new parliament will take place Dec 14, rather than Dec 7 as ordered earlier this month, Yushchenko said in a meeting with reporters.

Ukraine’s parliament - according to some legal observers no longer able to meet as Yushchenko declared it dissolved Oct 4 - will hold an emergency session to consider legislation aimed at curbing a budget crisis striking the former Soviet republic.

The world economic downturn has slammed Ukraine’s export-oriented industries, stalling growth and sparking wholesale abandonment of Ukrainian stock and the Ukrainian national currency the hryvna.

Falling tax revenues, rising costs of imported energy, rocketing foreign debt, and worsening GDP performance expectations make Ukraine’s present government budget untenable and requiring overhaul, Yushchenko said in remarks reported by the Interfax news agency.

Yulia Tymoshenko, Yushchenko’s Prime Minister and main political opponent, in a Sunday national television address called for an emergency session of parliament and a delay to elections, because of the oncoming cash crunch.

Yushchenko’s announcement tacitly agreeing to Tymoshenko’s suggestion came after a Monday meeting of Ukraine’s national security council lasting most of the day.

The emergency parliament session would focus on changes to the 2008 budget, fiscal and monetary steps needed to control the impact of the crisis in 2009, and funding for the upcoming elections, Yushchenko said.

The Ukrainian legislature’s willingness to cooperate with Yushchenko has deteriorated badly since its convocation and installation of a razor-thin pro-West majority last year. MPs subsequent to Yushchenko’s call for new elections have refused to approve funding for the vote to take place.

“Tomorrow will show, who (which Ukrainian MP) is interested in worsening the situation,” he said, noting that both crisis management legislation, and election funding bills, would be on the agenda for the next legislative session.

Ukraine’s parliament entered its latest crisis in September after a group of Yushchenko MPs deserted the ruling pro-West coalition, leaving the legislature without a ruling majority.

The Yushchenko and Tymoshenko camps, both overtly supporting closer Ukrainian relations with Europe and market reforms, have accused each other of political treason.

Yushchenko and Tymoshenko ironically were shoulder-to-shoulder leaders of Ukraine’s pro-democracy Orange Revolution in 2003. Since then the two have fallen out over policy issues, and disputes over division of government posts.

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