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Ukrainian Parties Fail To Form New Governing Coalition

Former Ukrainian prime minister and the leader of Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party, Yulia Tymoshenko, speaks in parliament on March 29.
Former Ukrainian prime minister and the leader of Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party, Yulia Tymoshenko, speaks in parliament on March 29.

Last-minute demands raised by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's Fatherland party quashed hopes for a new governing coalition in Ukraine on March 29.

The party had been reported on March 28 to be part of an imminent deal to form a new coalition and end the political crisis that has delayed Western-backed reforms and loans.

But Tymoshenko, at a meeting of prospective coalition members, raised new demands, including scrapping a tax on pension payments and rolling back energy price hikes.

The price hikes were a key reform demanded by the International Monetary Fund as part of Ukraine's bailout program.

Lawmakers emerged from the meeting saying the hoped-for coalition was not formed despite an announcement by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's party late on March 28 of an impending new alliance with Fatherland and President Petro Poroshenko's faction in the parliament.

Tymoshenko "is demanding a stack of political laws be voted on before joining the coalition. Everyone has to go back to the drawing board," a source in Poroshenko's bloc told Reuters.

Lawmakers in Yatsenyuk's faction also said the three-party coalition had not been formalized, with party head Maksym Burbak saying the deal won't be finalized until next week.

Mustafa Nayyem, a lawmaker from Poroshenko's bloc, said "Tymoshenko invented new conditions and that's why everything has finally failed."

Fatherland is the smallest party in parliament, but the support of its 19 lawmakers would have been enough to give the three-party coalition a majority when added to the 216 lawmakers from Poroshenko's and Yatsenyuk's factions.

Parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Hroysman, 38, an ally of Poroshenko, was expected to be put forward as a replacement prime minister by the new coalition. But that move also has been thrown into doubt or delayed along with the new coalition.

Lawmakers said the longer the government fails to form a new coalition, the more likely the chaos will trigger snap parliamentary elections, something Poroshenko hopes to avoid as that likely would boost support for populist parties that oppose Western-backed austerity measures.

The lack of a stable coalition capable of pushing reforms through parliament already has derailed talks for a new $1.7 billion loan from the IMF.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, Interfax, and TASS
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