Ukraine parliament meets, but no debate on PM

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s parliament reconvened on Thursday a day after the opposition prevented the chamber from sitting, but there was no indication when it would reconsider a proposal to restore Yulia Tymoshenko as prime minister.

Parliament is deadlocked over pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko’s bid to restore Tymoshenko, his ally in the 2004 “Orange Revolution.”

Tymoshenko was put forward a second time on Wednesday by Yushchenko, but her nomination fell short of endorsement earlier in the week by a single vote in the 450-seat assembly.

The deadlock has exposed the fragile nature of a 227-member coalition of two parties to emerge from a September election — Tymoshenko’s bloc and Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party.

Tymoshenko blamed the setback on rivals tampering with parliament’s electronic voting system.

The opposition, led by the Regions Party of outgoing Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, has long called for the creation of a “broad coalition” with some of the president’s supporters to ensure stability in the country of 47 million.

It refused to discuss election of the premier pending resolution of other issues and Thursday’s session opened with a debate on the allegations of tampering.

Other points on the agenda included distribution of committees and the election of top parliamentary posts.

“Let’s hear reports on the voting system and on committees and deputy speakers,” Raisa Bogatyryova, a senior member of the Regions Party, said as the session got under way.

“If we tackle these issues today, there is no reason to block proceedings in terms of electing, or failing to elect, a prime minister.”

Tymoshenko’s allies said they feared the opposition would try to prevent the vote again if there was an attempt to return to Tymoshenko’s nomination.

At least one senior member of the Regions Party, the largest single group in parliament, suggested the opposition might agree to an “orange” candidate other than Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko’s allies ruled out any such deal.

Tymoshenko roused crowds in 2004 by denouncing a rigged election, overturned by a court ruling after Yanukovich was initially declared the winner.

As premier, she spooked investors by calling for a major review of privatizations and was dismissed after her government split into rival camps. The two reconciled for the September election, called to end three years of political turmoil.

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