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Ukraine's parliament, president discuss early election - 1

(Adds details throughout, comment by Russian expert)

KIEV, April 2 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko launched consultations Monday with top lawmakers over the possible dissolution of parliament and early elections in an attempt to resolve the country's ongoing political crisis, the presidential press office said.

The crisis, which has faced Ukraine since March 2006 when elections failed to produce a majority party that could form a government on its own, took a new twist in March this year when several MPs allied with the president switched allegiance to the majority coalition, led by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

Opening his talks with parliament Monday, Yushchenko said the current crisis stemmed largely from defections to the majority coalition by individual lawmakers, which the president said was unconstitutional, and threatened to disband parliament and call early elections. But under Ukraine's constitution, the head of state cannot sign an order on the legislature's dissolution until he holds consultations with the speaker and faction leaders.

"This approach to forming a majority coalition at the Supreme Rada is unconstitutional, and means parliament's work is unlawful," he said.

The Yanukovych-led coalition in the 450-strong assembly already numbers 260. If its membership reaches 300, it will be able to overturn presidential vetoes and make changes to the Constitution.

According to Yushchenko, the current parliament, which held its first session last June, also failed to comply with the provision that a majority coalition should be formed within 30 days after the inauguration of a newly elected legislature.

Another factor contributing to the crisis, according to the President, is that the Rada increasingly passes legislation in contravention of the Constitution.

"This applies to laws regulating the activity of the state and government bodies," he said, citing as an example a law on the Cabinet, which allegedly contains "highly dubious clauses concerning constitutional requirements."

The consultations took place following mass rallies at the weekend in central Kiev by

Yushchenko's former "orange" revolution allies, urging the president to dissolve parliament, and supporters of Yanukovych, who tried to discourage him from making the move.

The head of Russia's social studies center Sofia, Andrei Yermolayev, said the Ukrainian opposition was seeking to provoke the president into unconstitutional moves.

"They are provoking a conflict between the branches of government, on the one hand. While on the other, they are trying to create a situation that would prompt both new parliamentary and presidential elections," he said.

President Yushchenko was to visit Moscow Tuesday, but he informed his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in a telephone conversation Monday that he would have to postpone the trip because of political tensions in his country.

Vasily Kiselev, deputy chairman of Yanukovych's Party of Regions, told reporters that the Supreme Rada will gather for an emergency session Monday night.

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