Averting Vote, Ukraine Parties Endorse Coalition Agreement

ReutersKyrylenko, center, presenting an expanded coalition deal in Kiev on Tuesday.
KIEV -- Three Ukrainian political groups on Tuesday endorsed the creation of an expanded parliamentary coalition linked to the 2004 Orange Revolution, eliminating, for now, the prospect of a snap election.

The coalition was announced in parliament last week, ending months of speculation that the previous Orange team in power for a year would disintegrate or that the country might be plunged into its third parliamentary vote in as many years.

The team brings together groups led by the two protagonists in the 2004 upheaval -- President Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's bloc. It is bolstered by a group led by parliament's new speaker, Volodymyr Lytvyn.

Tymoshenko remains prime minister, a job she has held twice, but she has promised changes in her Cabinet to help counter the effects of the world financial crisis. Ukraine has already secured a $16.7 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.

"We agreed that we will not change the government, but there will be changes in government," Ivan Kyrylenko, head of Tymoshenko's faction in the chamber, said after signing the deal.

The accord has left intact many notions underpinning the previous coalition, including a promise that Ukraine would not join NATO without a referendum. A moratorium on the sale of farmland would also remain in place, pending passage of legislation, Kyrylenko said.

Yushchenko, at odds with Tymoshenko for the past year, welcomed the end of months of "passions" with the formation of the coalition and called on parliament to proceed quickly with the 2009 budget and legislation to counter the crisis. But he and Tymoshenko appear to have resolved few of their differences on a wide range of issues.