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Ukraine's President, PM Agree on New Elections


Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych have agreed to hold early parliamentary elections, in a bid to end more than a month of political stalemate. The crisis has sparked weeks of protests in the capital, Kyiv, and hearings before Ukraine's Constitutional Court. VOA's Lisa McAdams in Moscow has details.

The two political rivals announced the breakthrough late Friday afternoon, just as another large-scale rally supporting the prime minister was beginning downtown.

Ukraine has been mired in political crisis since April 2, after pro-Russia Prime Minister Yanukovych defied President Yushchenko's decree, dissolving parliament and calling new elections.

The two men have held more than a half-dozen meetings behind closed doors aimed at ending the deadlock, before coming to terms Friday.

Ukraine's pro-western president told reporters he and his prime minister agree there is no other way to solve the standoff than to hold free and fair elections.

No immediate date was given for the vote. In order for the election to go forward, Ukraine's parliament (Rada) will have to pass several resolutions essential for organizing elections, including setting aside funding.

President Yushchenko says a working group has been formed to draw up the documents so the process can be accelerated.

The working group is expected to spend the next two days working out proposals for the new elections, before presenting them to parliament on Monday.

Latest polls in Kyiv indicate that if an election were held today, President Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party would come in a distant third, behind opposition ally Yulia Timoshenko's bloc and Yanukovych's Regions Party.

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