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Ukraine parliament to hold sessions until Sept. elections

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KIEV, September 4 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's parliament, the Supreme Rada, despite resistance from the president and opposition parties, backed a resolution Tuesday to hold plenary sessions until early parliamentary elections are held September 30.

Pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko, addressing Ukrainians on the country's main TV channels Monday, said the ruling coalition, which had announced a parliamentary session, was trying to obstruct early elections. He said any decision made by parliament would be illegal as over 150 opposition deputies had resigned.

A total of 264 out of 269 members of parliament registered at today's session supported the resolution.

The ruling coalition comprising the Party of Regions, the Socialist Party, and the Communist Party is holding a session Tuesday to consider the question of canceling deputies' immunity and benefits.

Yushchenko issued three decrees dissolving parliament in the spring after 11 opposition members defected to the ruling coalition, bringing it closer to a 300-member majority able to override presidential vetoes.

Yushchenko's decrees were challenged by the Supreme Rada and eventually his longtime rival, pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, struck a deal to hold early parliamentary elections on September 30 in a bid to end months of political wrangling.

Yushchenko lost much of his power, including the right to name the prime minister and form a government, on January 1, 2006, when constitutional amendments adopted in 2004 to move Ukraine from a presidential-parliamentary to a parliamentary-presidential form of governance became law.

Yanukovych returned as premier after his party's landslide victory in the March 2006 parliamentary polls.

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