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Ukraine's PM Calls for Simultaneous Parliamentary, Presidential Polls


Ukraine's Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych has urged his political rival President Viktor Yushchenko to add a presidential vote to go along with the early parliamentary elections he had decreed.

Yanukovych told a crowd of his supporters in the capital, Kyiv, Friday the president should cancel all his decrees and hold both elections simultaneously. He said that if Mr. Yushchenko respects his country and Ukraine's people, he will agree to the compromise.

Also Friday, Yanukovych's backers asked the nation's Constitutional Court to consider the legality of President Yushchenko's latest decree dissolving parliament and calling early elections. One-hundred-sixty deputies signed the appeal.

Meanwhile, the German presidency of the European Union expressed "serious concern" at the failure to resolve Ukraine's political crisis and urged the feuding sides to find ways to reach a compromise.

On Wednesday, President Yushchenko replaced his April 2 decree dissolving the legislature and setting elections for May with one scheduling the vote for June 24.

The president dissolved parliament after accusing the prime minister and his parliamentary allies of using illegal influence to persuade pro-presidential lawmakers to switch sides and join Mr. Yanukovych's coalition.

Tensions between the pro-western president and the prime minister, who favors closer ties with Russia, have been simmering since 2004, when the two men were rivals in a controversial presidential election.

Mr. Yanukovych won the election, sparking huge street protests by Yushchenko supporters, who called the vote fraudulent. A court ordered a new election, which Mr. Yushchenko won.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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