Ukraine's one-time Orange allies seek to pin down new coalition

Ukraine's former Orange Revolution allies held a new round of talks Monday on forming a coalition government, pledging to swiftly work out an agreement to reunite their estranged parties.

The March 26 parliamentary vote whose final results were announced Monday failed to give any party a majority and forced the country's top lawmakers into uneasy talks to put together a parliamentary majority.

According to the final results, released on the election commission's 15-day deadline, the pro-Russian Party of the Regions will have the biggest parliamentary faction after winning 32.14 percent of the vote, followed by the now-divided Orange Revolution team.

The party of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who had a bitter falling out with President Viktor Yushchenko last autumn, came in second with 22.29 percent, and Yushchenko's Our Ukraine finished third with 13.95 percent. The Socialists, who also supported the 2004 Orange Revolution mass protests, and the Communists also won enough votes to enter parliament.

Yaroslav Davydovych, head of the Central Election Commission, said the commission had considered more than 300 claims against the election mostly from minor parties who failed to make it over the 3 percent barrier to enter parliament and found them groundless.

Representatives of Our Ukraine, Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko and the Socialists on Monday considered a draft coalition agreement between their parties and decided to finalize the document in two days, Our Ukraine said on its Web site. Tymoshenko said on her Web site that she was "absolutely satisfied" with Monday's talks.

But Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, a senior member of Our Ukraine, has said that the party is also in talks with Party of Regions in the hope of forming a so-called grand coalition that would also include Tymoshenko's bloc and the Socialists. Other Our Ukraine leaders have ruled out any coalition with Party of Regions.

A reunited Orange Team would keep Ukraine on its pro-Western course, but it could further alienate the country's Russian-speaking east and south. That part of the country gave its support overwhelmingly to the Party of the Regions, which calls for improved ties with Moscow. A reunited Orange team also would make Yushchenko's party a weak partner to the ambitious Tymoshenko, reports AP.

O.Ch.