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Reports Predict Possible Political Breakthrough in Ukraine


After days of political deadlock in Ukraine, latest reports indicate the government and pro-opposition forces have come to agreement on a series of legislative changes that would allow for a new presidential run-off vote by month's end.

Opposition leader Petro Poroshenko predicts Ukraine's political deadlock will be broken on Tuesday, during an extraordinary session of parliament. At that time, he says lawmakers will pass changes to the Constitution and to Ukraine's electoral law that have so far held up plans to hold the next election.

Details about the exact deal reportedly reached remain sketchy, but Ukraine's independent television quotes Ukrainian officials as saying the agreement will satisfy opposition demands to fire the government of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, the declared winner of the elections, whose victory was overturned by Ukraine's Supreme Court last Friday in a landmark ruling for the opposition.

The changes are also expected to include the naming of a new head of the Central Election Committee to replace the one who oversaw last month's fraudulent second round run-off.

If parliament passes the legislation, it will still need to be signed into law by outgoing President Leonid Kuchma.

In return, the opposition is said to have agreed to President Kuchma's demands for controversial Constitutional reforms that could lead to an eventual weakening of the presidency, in favor of the parliament and prime minister.

News of the potential break came late Monday after talks between the various parliamentary factions. It also coincided with a third series of roundtable talks in Kiev by international mediators at President Kuchma's request.

The talks at Kiev's Mariansky Palace grouped EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, OSCE Secretary General Jan Kubas, Lithuanian President Valdus Adamkus, Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski, along with President Kuchma and the opposing presidential candidates, Mr. Yanukovych and opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko. For the first time since the mediation began, Russia's views were also represented by Russian parliamentary speaker, Boris Gryzlof.

Earlier, Mr. Kuchma again asked parliament to examine the proposed changes without delay.

In a New York Times interview published Monday, Mr. Kuchma said that if he were Prime Minister Yanukovych he would not agree to stand in the third round re-run election.

But Mr. Yanukovych appeared in public for the first time in days Monday and assured his supporters he would be a candidate.

Mr. Yanukovych said several million people voted for him in the last round of elections and that he could not let his supporters down. He also named parliamentarian Taras Chernovyl as his new campaign manager.

If a political deal is sealed on Tuesday, as reports suggest, Ukraine's voters are expected to head back to the polls on December 26.

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