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Ukraine's president was formally elected leader of the People's Union
Ukraine's president was formally elected leader of the People's Union Our Ukraine party on Saturday, which means he could top the party list in early parliamentary elections and run for prime minister, a lawmaker said.

"I believe this is a clear signal that if early elections take place in 2009, Viktor Yushchenko will top the list of our party or a bloc if such is set up," Andriy Parubiy, also an Our Ukraine member, said as quoted by UNIAN agency.

Our Ukraine said it had elected Yushchenko its leader at a congress on Saturday, replacing Vyacheslav Kyrylenko. Yushchenko had been the party's honorary chairman.

Asked whether the early election would be held, Parubiy told the news agency citing the president that it was still possible if the legislature failed to demonstrate "fruitful work."

Yushchenko dissolved parliament after the collapse of his party's coalition with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's bloc in September and called snap elections.

The early elections were called off amid the global credit crunch, which has devastated Ukraine's economy forcing Kiev to turn to the IMF for an emergency $16.5 billion loan as prices for steel, the country's main export, plummeted and the national currency, the hryvnia, dropped to historic lows against the dollar.

The lawmaker also said Kyrylenko, who would later be elected party deputy leader, would actually remain in charge of Our Ukraine.


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