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Ukraine Crisis Sees Slow Progress

The opposition has urged supporters to maintain their public presence despite the apparent progress (file photo) 2 December 2004 -- The Ukrainian is expected to convene today to discuss constitutional reforms hammered out during internationally assisted talks to resolve the political stalemate that began when the opposition accused officials of rigging the 21 November presidential elections.

Yesterday, the two rivals, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko, agreed to seek to reduce the power of the president and boost the powers of parliament in a bid to end the 11-day-old crisis. Today, parliament begins drafting changes to legislation necessary to implement these changes.

Both candidates also agreed during talks mediated by outgoing President Leonid Kuchma that the Supreme Court must decide how to resolve the crisis. The Supreme Court is now reviewing claims of electoral fraud from the 21 November presidential runoff brought by Yushchenko, who charges the process was manipulated in favor of declared winner Yanukovych.

The two sides will meet for more talks only after the Supreme Court rules on the fraud case, which should happen within days.

Kuchma has suggested new balloting with new candidates. The European Union, the United States, and other Western powers want a rerun of the second round, as does Yushchenko.

Also yesterday, Ukraine's parliament passed a vote of no-confidence in Yanukovych's government. Yanukovych said he will not step down and called the vote illegal.


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