Parliament, Kuchma in Peace Deal

KIEV -- Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma signed a peace deal with parliament Thursday, ending months of political tension, and immediately used his enhanced powers to appoint a new prime minister.


Kuchma announced he was confirming acting premier Yevhen Marchuk, 54, as head of government. Marchuk will be Ukraine's fifth prime minister in three years of independence.


Under the "constitutional treaty" signed Thursday, parliament agreed to extend Kuchma's powers if he revoked a confidence referendum on himself and the assembly. He now has the right to issue decrees and appoint ministers -- formerly a prerogative of parliament.


Kuchma's advisers say the treaty will make it possible for the president to form a new, united government of reformers. Parliament dissolved the government in April, but ministers have stayed in place until a new government could be formed.


In line with the peace deal, Kuchma also said he had issued a decree cancelling the June 28 referendum which he called last week in defiance of the assembly. "We have passed the test for state wisdom and balance, the ability to preserve civil peace and finding a civilized way to resolve all problems," said Kuchma after signing the document to applause from deputies and officials.


Kuchma also called on parliament deputies to form a majority in parliament in support of market reforms.


Dozens of parliament deputies queued up to sign the treaty before Kuchma and parliament chairman Olexander Moroz.


"I believe cooperation between both branches of power will bring positive results. The parliament made the right decision," said Moroz, a socialist who previously had publicly opposed Kuchma's efforts to reform the economy.


Shortly after the ceremony, Kuchma and Marchuk left for the Russian resort of Sochi for a Ukrainian-Russian summit on the disputed Black Sea Fleet.


Marchuk, who is well-respected by Ukraine's political left and right, has headed difficult negotiations with neighboring Russia and supports Kuchma's pro-reforms policy.


He replaced conservative Vitaly Masol, who resigned under pressure from Kuchma. Earlier he headed the Ukrainian Security Service.