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Ukraine's president intends to introduce direct presidential rule in the country
Ukraine's president, who signed a decree Monday dissolving parliament, intends to introduce direct presidential rule in the country, a Socialist Party member said Thursday. After Western-leaning President Viktor Yushchenko, who has been embroiled in a standoff with the premier, decreed that parliament be dissolved and early elections be scheduled for late May, parliament refused to obey and referred the decree to the Constitutional Court. "It became known from a reliable source that a decree to introduce direct presidential rule will be signed today at a session of the National Security and Defense Council," Vasiliy Volga said. Ukraine's Constitutional Court said Thursday it would decide within 15 days whether the deputies' representation on the legality of the parliament's dissolution by the president is worth considering in essence, or whether it does not merit further consideration. The latest twist in the simmering political crisis in the former Soviet nation of 47 million was triggered after 11 members of Tymoshenko's and pro-presidential Our Ukraine blocs defected to the majority coalition March 23. Yushchenko, whose powers were drastically curtailed by a Cabinet law early this year, said the defections were against the Constitution. The pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych promised to revise the law on the Cabinet if the president backtracked on his decree. Political speculation continued as the Party of Regions said Yushchenko was also preparing to dismiss the government, which had allowed the Supreme Rada to continue working despite the presidential order. "The Ukrainian president intends to dismiss the Cabinet of Yanukovych and take over executive powers," Volodymyr Sivkovych of the Party of Regions said quoting sources in the presidential secretariat. "The decree would indicate that the president intends to usurp power and establish a presidential dictatorship in the country," Sivkovych said, adding that no democratic elections could therefore be expected. In addition to these accusations, the Supreme Rada, which gathered for an emergency session, also passed a resolution accusing Yushchenko of an attempted coup. "The presidential decree to dissolve the Supreme Rada of Ukraine is unconstitutional," lawmakers said. "The head of state made the decision without consulting the Constitution and abused his office, attempting to stage a coup." Parliament cited Article 90 of the Constitution, which allows the president to disband parliament for failure to form a coalition within a month following elections in order to protect the rights of voters. The president's representative in the Constitutional Court, Volodymyr Shapoval, moved to defend Yushchenko and said the presidential decree was in line with the Constitution, adding that subsequent parliamentary decisions were illegal. The head of the presidential secretariat, Viktor Baloga, said the consideration of the issue in the Constitutional Court does not mean the implementation of the decree could be postponed, and that attempts by some politicians and deputies to postpone it "are evidence of their legal ignorance." Several thousand supporters of the ruling coalition, which also comprises the Communists and Socialists, rallied in central Kiev Wednesday. Several hundred reportedly plan to stay in a tent camp until the Constitutional Court rules on the presidential decree. The situation left the chairman of the Constitutional Court, Ivan Dombrovskiy, who was appointed in August, caught between the two conflicting sides. He wrote a letter of resignation but the judges turned it down, and he continues to perform his duties. Kiev police said approximately 6,000 people arrived in Kiev to support the parliamentary-government coalition. "A total of 66 buses and five trains arrived in Kiev today. The total number of people who arrived is 5,858 people," police spokesman Volodymyr Polyshchuk said. Party of Regions faction deputy Taras Chernovol said earlier Thursday that Supreme Rada Speaker Oleksandr Moroz will take part in today's session of the National Security Council, now underway, despite his exclusion from the body by President Yushchenko Tuesday. Yanukovych told EU High Representative for a Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana by phone Thursday that a military solution to the political crisis in Ukraine has been ruled out.
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