KYIV (Reuters) -- Ukraine's parliament, functioning for weeks without a working coalition or a chairman, has invited the president and prime minister to a sitting next week to break a deadlock paralyzing the country's institutions.
The assembly issued the invitation as talks proceeded on forming a coalition that could bring together two groups that stood on the opposite sides of the barrier during the 2004 Orange Revolution that swept pro-Western politicians to power.
President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko were allies in those protests but are now rivals -- a coalition of their two political groups collapsed in September.
The premier's allies backed the invitation to the December 9 sitting, but the president rarely visits the chamber and his Our Ukraine party refused to vote for the invitation.
Tymoshenko has appealed for reinstatement of an "orange" governing team. But her allies are in talks on forming an alternative coalition with ex-prime minister Viktor Yanukovych -- the main target of protesters in 2004.
Yanukovych's Regions Party holds 175 seats while the premier's bloc has 156, which would give their forces a comfortable majority in the 450-seat chamber.
"At the moment, active talks are under way between two political groups -- the Tymoshenko bloc and the Regions Party," Valery Pisarenko, an ally of the prime minister, told reporters.
Parliamentarian Hanna Herman, close to Yanukovych, confirmed talks were proceeding: "What cannot be allowed now is drift and the collapse of parliament."
The president, long opposed to any coalition between Tymoshenko and Yanukovych, said that such a deal could lead "to very unpleasant and even unpredictable events."
The president initially called a snap parliamentary election to resolve the deadlock but has shelved the idea for now.
Ukraine has been gripped by four years of political turmoil since rallies against a rigged presidential election in which Yanukovych was initially declared the winner. The outcome was overturned in the courts and Yushchenko won a re-run of the contest.
A coalition deal between Tymoshenko and Yanukovych would involve a carve-up of key jobs, especially that of premier.
Yanukovych's allies say he would take over as leader of parliament's largest group. Tymoshenko, twice named prime minister, is unlikely to give up her job willingly.
The post of parliament's chairman remains vacant as parties have failed to agree on a replacement for Arseniy Yatsenyuk, an ally of the president dismissed by the chamber in October.