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Poroshenko Calls For Unity On Special Status For Eastern Ukraine

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has called on all political forces in the country to support his plans for constitutional change aimed at ending a separatist conflict in the east and defeating what he called the "Russian aggressor."

Poroshenko used a flag-raising ceremony in Kyiv on the eve of Ukraine’s Independence Day to call on his coalition allies to overcome their doubts and vote in favor of constitutional amendments that would grant special status to separatist-minded parts of eastern Ukraine.

The proposed amendments are scheduled to go to a first vote in parliament on August 31.

But they have split Poroshenko's pro-Western coalition to the point that it remains unclear whether the government will be able to gather the necessary 226 votes to send the proposed amendments to a second reading.

Several coalition allies are under pressure -- particularly from militant paramilitary groups that oppose giving any ground to Russian-backed separatists.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters