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Ukraine: Parliament Again Fails To Elect A Speaker

Kyiv, 27 May 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Ukraine's Parliament has again failed to elect a speaker, after pro-government factions yesterday refused to vote. As during the first vote last Friday, the elections were labeled "invalid" because less than the required number of deputies voted.

Out of 200 deputies who cast their ballot for two candidates, Communist faction leader Petro Symonenko was supported by 150 Socialist and Communist lawmakers. The other 50, mostly from the opposition Hromada faction, led by former prime minister Pavlo Lazarenko, voted for Hromada candidate, Oleksandr Yelyashkevych. In the first round of elections, Symonenko had 190 votes.

Ukraine's parliament, or Rada, currently numbers 437 deputies. The remaining 13 mandates are under challenge in local election districts.

The four pro-government factions that refused to vote reiterated that they would not participate in the elections, unless the chair is elected, together with his two deputies. However, this proposal is vehemently opposed by the leftists.

RFE/RL Kyiv reports Parliament faction leaders are due to meet again today to try to stop the continuing confrontation, between the warring camps of leftists and pro-government centrists. Unless an agreement is reached, the dispute could continue indefinitely, since neither side has enough votes to command a majority in the legislature.

The ongoing confrontation is seen by some observers as inspired by the administration of President Leonid Kuchma, who wants to prevent his primary rival in next year's presidential elections, former chairman Oleksandr Moroz, from taking the chairman's post again. The position of chairman is viewed as a formidable launching pad for the presidential election, scheduled for October 1999.