UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Yushchenko calls for coalition talks after Ukraine polls

RIA Novosti

03/10/2007 18:03 (Recasts headline, lead, adds paras 4-8)

KIEV, October 3 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's president invited parties to start talks on forming a coalition government after Sunday's early parliamentary polls as preliminary results suggest the possibility of a fresh political standoff.

In a televised address on Wednesday, Viktor Yushchenko said the five parties that made it into the Supreme Rada should decide who would form a ruling coalition and the opposition.

But Yushchenko said he was "positive that democracy and the entire Ukraine have won the elections," anyway.

With just under 100% of votes counted, the Party of Regions led by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych is in the lead. It is closely followed by his arch-rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's bloc, which did better than expected. The other Western-leaning bloc, pro-presidential Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense, is in third place.

The latter two plan to join forces to secure a ruling majority in parliament and outseat the premier. But given their differences and side-swapping in the years since their alliance in the 2004 "orange revolution" that swept Yushchenko to power, fears persist a new union will be short-lived because of bickering over Cabinet posts, which was the case after the 2006 elections.

Yanukovych has also claimed victory. His party said Tuesday it was already in talks on forming a coalition but gave no more details. The premier earlier said he invited "all parties and blocs in the Rada" to maintain cooperation.

Other parties that made it into the legislature are the Communists, Yanukovych's allies in the previous coalition, and former parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn's bloc, whose affiliation is not clear yet.

The president dismissed the Supreme Rada in April and called snap elections, accusing Yanukovych of "usurping power." The longtime political foes agreed on the September 30 vote following months of litigation and street rallies.