KYIV - Several non-aligned Ukrainian lawmakers have agreed to join Ukraine's biggest faction to help end a political crisis that is stalling Western-backed reforms and vital international financial aid, deputies said on Wednesday.
Lawmakers are under pressure to end a deadlock that threatens snap parliamentary elections and has delayed disbursement of $1.7 billion in loans from the International Monetary Fund to help the war-torn economy.
Since mid-February, attempts to form a multi-party coalition with smaller populist or reformist factions have gone nowhere, prompting President Petro Poroshenko's 'BPP' political bloc to appeal to independent MPs.
"Talks are going on at the moment with several non-faction deputies - we've invited them to join our faction," , BPP's Oleksiy Goncharenko told journalists. "There are several applications (to sign up) already."
"There are lots of deputies who don't want snap elections, because they know nothing good would come of it, because it would risk their seat and therefore they're prepared to help," he said.
According to the parliamentary website, the BPP and the People's Front of Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk together have 219 lawmakers, only seven fewer than the number needed to form a coalition and appoint a new government.
Parliamentary Speaker Volodymyr Groysman, a 38-year-old former mayor and ally of Poroshenko, has been put forward as a replacement prime minister, but Yatseniuk has refused to step down until a new coalition agreement is signed.
"We need to recruit only a few of the 50 independent deputies. The formal creation of a coalition would allow Groysman to be approved, but after that we would need to focus on building up the coalition further," BPP lawmaker Andriy Vadatursky told Reuters.
Groysman has said as prime minister he would want Ukraine to stick to its reform promises under a $40 billion bailout program backed by the International Monetary Fund, but his government would need the support of parliament to pass laws.
Lawmaker Irina Suslova said she had agreed to join BPP for the sake of forming a coalition but would not necessarily vote along party lines in parliament.
"My conditions were the following: if I have my own opinion, I will vote as I see fit," she told journalists.