KIEV, Ukraine – President Viktor Yushchenko dissolved Ukraine’s parliament and called early elections Monday, but parliament refused to acknowledge the order and vowed to continue meeting as the country slipped further into political turmoil.
The deadlock follows months of maneuvering by Yushchenko and his rival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, and signals the possible return of competing protests, tent camps and political rallies to the streets of Kiev – two years after mass protests helped propel Yushchenko to power.
After holding more than seven hours of talks with top lawmakers, Yushchenko accused Yanukovych’s parliamentary majority of seeking to expand its power base in violation of the Constitution by recruiting members from pro-presidential factions.
“My actions are dictated by the strict necessity to save the state’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Yushchenko said in a live televised address. “It is not only my right, it is my obligation.”
As Yushchenko spoke, parliament met in extraordinary session, where it voted to block money for the new election, which he set for May 27. Parliament Speaker Oleksandr Moroz said Yushchenko had no legal basis to make such a decision and lawmakers adopted a statement calling it baseless.
Yanukovych’s Cabinet convened later in a special session, where he appealed to Yushchenko to cancel the dissolution and go back to the negotiation table.