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Ukraine Misses Key Deadline to Form Coalition Government

Ukraine's majority coalition has scheduled a special session to discuss the stalemate in forming the country's next government. President Viktor Yushchenko let a midnight deadline pass without deciding on whether to approve his arch-rival Viktor Yanukovych's nomination as prime minister.

President Yushchenko remained silent as the midnight deadline to approve the majority coalition's nomination for prime minister came and went. Presidential aides suggest that Mr. Yushchenko has until August 2 to respond to Mr. Yanukovych's nomination, but with parliament scheduled to adjourn by week's end, tensions are flaring.

In comments broadcast on Russian television, Communist party leader Petro Simonenko places the blame for the three-month-long stand-off squarely with the president.

Majority coalition members say President Yushchenko has no reason to override, or ignore, public opinion, noting that the Ukrainian people cast the most votes in the March parliamentary elections for Yanukovych's Party of Regions.

Some members of the coalition, most notably the new speaker of parliament, Oleksander Moroz, have suggested that parliament could approve Yanukovych as prime minister, without the president's approval.

President Yushchenko has said he still retains the right to dissolve parliament and call new elections and that any act, without his approval, would be "illegal."

Kiev-based independent political analyst Ivan Lozowy tells VOA Mr. Yushchenko's silence is, as he put it, understandable.

"He faces a very, very difficult choice. That it's of his own choice does not make it any easier for him," said Lozowy. "He can dissolve parliament and face worse results than he received several months ago in the general election. [Or] He can appoint Yanukovych, basically committing political Hari-Kari [suicide] because this is his major opponent, who would come in with additional powers that the prime minister post received at the start of this year."

Those new powers, according to analyst Lozowy, would be enough for Yanukovych and his Party of Regions to basically erode the last vestiges of President Yushchenko's power just 18 months after he was swept into office by street protests during Ukraine's Orange Revolution.