Ukraine crisis: Opposition reject power share deal

January 26, 2014 | By | Reply More

Jan 26, Kiev, Ukraine — In a striking concession aimed at defusing Ukraine’s civil uprising and preserving his own grip on power, President Viktor F. Yanukovych on Saturday offered to install opposition leaders in top posts in a reshaped government, but they swiftly rebuffed the offer to the delight of thousands of protesters on the street craving a fuller victory in the days ahead.

hromedia Ukraine crisis Opposition reject power share deal eu news4With mass protests spreading across the country, Mr. Yanukovych proposed one opposition figure, Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, as prime minister and another, the former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, as vice prime minister for humanitarian affairs. Mr. Yatsenyuk is a leader of Fatherland, the party of Mr. Yanukovych’s archrival, the jailed former prime minister, Yulia V. Tymoshenko.

“No deal,” Mr. Yatsenyuk wrote on Twitter, addressing Mr. Yanukovych as thousands of angry protesters streamed to the still-occupied Independence Square, undeterred by the biting cold. “We’re finishing what we started,” he added. “The people decide our leaders, not you.”

In a speech from the stage on the square, and in a news conference afterward, Mr. Yatsenyuk expressed more flexibility, but insisted that the embattled president was no longer in a position to dictate the terms of a deal. “We have our conditions,” he said, “not your conditions.”

Those conditions, Mr. Yatsenyuk said, would include reconsideration of the far-reaching political and free trade agreements with the European Union that Mr. Yanukovych had promised to sign, but then abandoned. That decision set off the protests in late November. Mr. Yatsenyuk also said that Ms. Tymoshenko must be released from prison as European leaders have insisted.

Many demonstrators on the streets of Kiev, the capital, including some involved in violent clashes with the police, have been demanding Mr. Yanukovych’s resignation, which he did not offer. And the fury of the crowd made clear that the leaders would almost certainly have faced a mutiny had they accepted the deal.

“Shame!” some chanted as Mr. Yatsenyuk began his remarks by saying that the opposition was not afraid to lead the country. Others shouted, “Betrayer!”

In a further complication, some of the most aggressive demonstrators are supporters of the nationalist Svoboda Party and its leader, Oleg Tyagnibok, who took part in the talks with Mr. Yanukovych but was not offered a position.

Mr. Klitschko, who leads a party called the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform, said that protesters would remain on the streets as negotiations continued.

Mr. Yanukovych’s willingness to remove Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, who has been his staunch ally through the more than two-month-long civic uprising, underscored just how much pressure he has been facing to contain the crisis.

His offer came as protests continued to spread across the country on Saturday, with efforts to occupy or blockade government buildings underway in at least a dozen cities besides Kiev. In recent days, it has become increasingly clear that the elite Berkut riot police and other Interior Ministry troops are outnumbered and would face enormous challenges if asked to enforce a state of emergency.

Late Friday night, a fragile truce had disintegrated in Kiev and the city again was convulsed in violence.

In a move that suggested that his offers were more than theatrics aimed at dividing the opposition, Mr. Yanukovych also said he would be willing to roll back constitutional changes made at his direction that broadly expanded the powers of the presidency earlier in his term.

He also agreed to make changes to a package of new laws that severely suppress political dissent, including freedoms of speech and assembly, which Mr. Yanukovych’s backers rammed through Parliament on Jan. 16. And he reiterated his offer to free all detained protesters who have not been charged with serious crimes.

At his news conference late Saturday, Mr. Yatsenyuk said talks with Mr. Yanukovych would continue. “We do not reject the offer,” he said, “but we do not accept it.”

Press coordinator for HRO media – Norberto Lluch contributed to this report.

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Category: European Crises

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