Speaking in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk, Yushchenko accused the government of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych of violating the constitution by forming a coalition based on individuals rather than political factions.
"The constitution requires that a parliamentary majority be formed on the basis of a coalition of factions," Yushchenko said. "I would like to emphasize the word 'factions' -- it is not a coalition of people's deputies, but a coalition of factions."
Year Of Deadlock
Yuschenko's remarks came one year after the country's parliamentary elections, in which Yanukovych's Party of Regions won the most votes and later formed a ruling coalition together with the Communists and Socialists.
It also follows the recent switch to the ruling coalition of more than 10 members from the two opposition blocs of Yushchenko and his Orange Revolution sidekick Yuliya Tymoshenko.
Yushchenko and Yanukovych were rivals during the 2004 presidential election that prompted the "orange" protests that ultimately placed the pro-Western Yushchenko in power.
In his address, Yushchenko said that over the past year, Ukraine had witnessed what he called a "dangerous tendency to usurp power."
He accused the majority of waging a campaign to win over deputies defecting from Yushchenko's side as a "barefaced revision of the will of the Ukrainian voters, a breach of the constitution and a direct road to lawlessness."
The president warned he might choose to respond by dissolving parliament.
"As president, I want to assure you that I will never allow the parliamentary majority to be reformatted in violation of the constitution," Yushchenko said. "If any political forces believe they can claim 300 [of 450 parliament] seats and they declare repeatedly that there will be a 300-deputy coalition in parliament, then a political decision should be made and we should call early parliamentary elections."
Prime Minister Unfazed
Yanukovych said today he doubts Yushchenko will dissolve the Verkhovna Rada.
Speaking in Khartsyzsk in the Donetsk region, the prime minister added that Ukraine's Constitutional Court would "never confirm" such a move, and described Yushchenko's comments as "irresponsible."
"It is irresponsible to make such statements," he said. "There is a system in the country for interpreting laws, and that is the Constitutional Court, which draws conclusions and makes decisions. And in my view it is a mistake on the president's part to make such statements."
Yushchenko says he plans to meet with parliamentary faction heads on March 30 to present his position on how to solve the crisis in the Verkhovna Rada. He said he is also ready to meet with Yanukovych.
Yushchenko also said his Our Ukraine People's Union party will be "radically renewed" at its congress on March 31.
Both the Party of Regions and the Yuliya Tymoshenko bloc have planned public rallies in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities during the next several days.
(with material from agency reports)
Torn Between East And West
Yushchenko (center) with Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin (left), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (rear), and Russian President Vladimir Putin (AFP file photo)
IN WHOSE ORBIT? Just over a year ago, tens of thousands of Ukrainians led an extended public uprising that toppled the country's entrenched, pro-Russia regime. But the country remains deeply divided between the east, where ethnic Russians look toward Moscow, and the west, which yearns for deeper integration with Europe. Can Ukraine elect a legislature that represents this torn country? (more)