Ukrainian political rivals President Victor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich have agreed to hold early parliamentary elections on September 30. The announcement followed more than 12 hours of talks between the parties and is aimed at ending a political crisis that follows the president's dissolution of parliament in April. Anya Ardayeva reports from Moscow.
The talks, which involved key lawmakers, reportedly started after several hours' delay late Saturday and went past midnight before a joint statement was signed. According to the document, Ukraine's parliament will meet Tuesday to approve September 30 as the new date for elections.
Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko announced that a compromise was reached and said the political crisis in the country was now "finished". He also said the deal showed that Ukraine has now become "an adult democracy".
Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich said the parties will do everything so that a crisis of this kind is not repeated, so that "there are no more mistakes, no more emotions".
The political standoff began on April 2 when Mr. Yushchenko accused his rivals of trying to "usurp power", dissolved parliament, and ordered new elections. Mr. Yanukovich's supporters defied the order and remained in their seats, challenging the decision in the Constitutional Court.
Tension peaked on Friday when Mr. Yuschenko said he was taking control of more than 30,000 Interior Ministry troops and ordered more units to the capital, Kiev, in a step described as a routine effort to increase security. The Interior Ministry said the troops had been redeployed without the authorization of the Interior Minister, who is loyal to Mr. Yanukovich.
A statement by Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis welcomed the deal and said Ukrainians should feel proud that the elections agreement was reached without the help of outside arbitrators.