KIEV, April 4 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's parliament passed a resolution Wednesday accusing President Viktor Yushchenko of an attempted coup amid an escalating dispute between pro-presidential and premier-led factions.
"The presidential decree to dissolve the Supreme Rada of Ukraine is unconstitutional," lawmakers said. "The head of state made the decision without consulting the Constitution and abused his office, attempting to stage a coup."
Lawmakers cited Article 90 of the Constitution, which allows the president to disband parliament for failure to form a coalition within a month following elections in order to protect the rights of voters.
Yushchenko earlier said the defection of 11 members of pro-presidential Our Ukraine and the opposition Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc in late March to the premier-controlled majority coalition in the Supreme Rada was illegal, as it revised March 2006 parliamentary election results.
The defectors brought the ruling coalition closer to a 300-seat constitutional majority in the 450-member Supreme Rada, which would have made it veto-immune and allowed it to amend the Constitution.
The government allowed the Supreme Rada to continue work in defiance of the presidential orders to disband and hold early elections May 27, and pending a Constitutional Court ruling on the legitimacy of the orders.
The president's representative in the Constitutional Court, Volodymyr Shapoval, said Wednesday the order was in line with the Constitution, adding that subsequent parliamentary decisions were illegal.
Parliament has prohibited the government from allocating funds for an election. It also dismissed the Central Election Commission and reinstated the commission disbanded for allegedly counterfeiting results of the presidential elections in late 2004, when Yanukovych was stripped of his presidency.
Western-leaning Yushchenko and Russian-backed Yanukovych, also his rival in the "orange revolution" that followed the contested polls, negotiated for more than four hours Tuesday, but failed to reach a consensus.
Several thousand supporters of the coalition, which comprises the Communists and Socialists, and is led by Yanukovych's Party of Regions, rallied in central Kiev Wednesday. Several hundred reportedly plan to stay in a tent camp until the Constitutional Court issues a ruling.
Tymoshenko, Yushchenko's flamboyant "orange revolution" ally, has called off supporters following weekend rallies, saying political differences would be settled through elections.
Ukraine's finance minister said Wednesday the country could not afford new elections.
"If millionaires from the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc have spare money, let them finance the election," Nikolai Azarov said, adding the president should name the sources from which he would allocate the $138 million required for the campaign.
He also warned of possible economic damage from political instability, which has persisted since the March 2006 elections that failed to produce a clear leader able to form a government, prompting an uneasy power-sharing deal.
The opposing political factions reached a deal in August, allowing Yanukovych's comeback as premier in exchange for his support for Yushchenko's foreign and domestic policies. The president has since accused Yanukovych of violating the deal and usurping power.
The head of the Ukrainian Banking Union said Wednesday the ongoing crisis had not affected the banking sector.
"Transactions on the inter-bank market have not shown any rush demand for foreign currency yesterday or today," Boris Sobolev said. "Retailers and the Interbank Currency Exchange have not responded to political developments in the country. People are living their lives."