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Ukraine's President Extends Deadline, Warns Lawmakers to Pass Law Package


Ukraine's President Victor Yushchenko has warned lawmakers that he will schedule early parliamentary elections to be held within 60 days if they fail to adopt laws paving the way for the vote.

Mr. Yushchenko set a deadline of this Thursday evening for the passage of the measures, extending it by one day after lawmakers on Wednesday failed to pass a package required for the elections to be held on September 30. He spoke Thursday in Croatia's capital, Zagreb, after a meeting with that country's President Stipe Mesic.

In Kyiv, Parliament speaker Aleksander Moroz said that final approval of the elections package will probably come Friday.

European Parliament officials have urged all sides in Ukraine to abide by previous agreements.

President Yushchenko and his rival Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych agreed Sunday to hold early elections on September 30 to end months of political turmoil in the country.

The bills up for vote include financing for the elections, a reform of the central electoral commission, and laws to ease Ukraine's bid to join the World Trade Organization.

The crisis started after President Yushchenko accused Mr. Yanukovych of using illegal means to lure pro-presidential lawmakers into the governing coalition.

The reformist president and the prime minister, who favors closer ties with Russia, have been at odds since facing each other in the 2004 controversial presidential election.

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

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