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Ukraine's President Extends Election Law Deadline

Despite their recent agreement, Yushchenko (left) and Yanukovych are still at odds (file photo) (epa) KYIV, May 31, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has extended his deadline for parliament to pass a series of laws needed to hold early elections, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported.

On May 27, President Viktor Yushchenko and his rival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, agreed to hold elections on September 30 to end weeks of wrangling.

Parliament was given till May 30 to pass laws for the early poll, but failed to do so.

Last month, Yushchenko issued decrees dissolving parliament. To allow the Verkhovna Rada to pass the laws, however, he overturned that decision and allowed it to meet on May 29 and 30.

It is unclear what action Yushchenko will now take. He suggested on May 30 that he could extend the deadline.

Parliament speaker Oleksandr Moroz said debate would resume later today.

Debate late on May 30 got bogged down over objections from Yanukovych's allies to the president's call to bar parliamentarians from switching parties once elected.

Yushchenko has accused Yanukovych of unfairly luring supporters to his side to expand his majority in parliament.

Yushchenko favors moving Ukraine closer to the West, while Yanukovych prefers strengthening ties with Russia.

(with material from Reuters)

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