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Yushchenko Says Street Protests To Continue

6 December 2004 -- Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko has called on his supporters to maintain their street blockades of government offices in Kyiv until steps are taken to ensure a fair new election.

Yushchenko told supporters in Kyiv's Independence Square on the evening of 5 December that the opposition is demanding that parliament and outgoing President Leonid Kuchma both approve electoral-law changes to prevent fraud in the repeat runoff between Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych that is tentatively scheduled for 26 December.

Yushchenko urged the parliament to return from a recess to pass the amendments by 8 December.

Yushchenko said the opposition also demands that Kuchma replace the members of the Central Election Commission and sack Yanukovych's government, in line with a recent parliamentary no-confidence vote.

No response from Kuchma or Yanukovych was immediately available.

Kuchma has accused the opposition of reneging on pledges to support constitutional changes that would reduce the presidential powers in exchange for the electoral reforms.

It remained unclear late on 5 December whether European and Russian mediators would hold a new round of talks in Kyiv today with the opposition and authorities in a bid to resolve the latest impasse.


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