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Ukrainian Lawmakers Again Challenge President


Ukrainian lawmakers have adopted a resolution calling for simultaneous early presidential and parliamentary elections.

The non-binding measure urges adoption of constitutional amendments, which would permit holding the early presidential vote. It also specifies that the elections should be held no later than December 9.

All of the lawmakers participating in Monday's vote were supporters of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

The prime minister's rival, President Viktor Yushchenko, earlier this month ordered the dissolution of parliament and set a late May date for new elections. But the prime minister's supporters rejected the presidential order and refused to finance the vote. That forced Mr. Yushchenko to put off the elections until 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 reformist 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 in late 2004 in which Mr. Yushchenko won a five-year term.

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