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Ukraine president wants "orange" coalition, without PM

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Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko seeks a coalition of "orange" parties in parliament after the early polls, not a broader alliance with his longtime rival, the prime minister, a leader of a pro-presidential bloc said Thursday.
KIEV, October 4 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko seeks a coalition of "orange" parties in parliament after the early polls, not a broader alliance with his longtime rival, the prime minister, a leader of a pro-presidential bloc said Thursday.

With official results of the Sunday election still pending, Yushchenko has called on all parties leading the polls to start preliminary talks on forming a ruling majority leaving aside their differences, instead of directly siding with his pro-Western allies as was expected.

"We held discussions with the head of state today, and he welcomed the creation of a democratic coalition," Yuriy Lutsenko, co-leader of Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense bloc, said adding coalition talks with former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's party would start on Friday.

Lutsenko said reports about their possible alliance with the Party of Regions led by Premier Viktor Yanukovych, who was overturned as the winner of the 2004 presidential race by "orange revolution" protests staged by Yushchenko and Tymoshenko, were a "provocation."

Flamboyant opposition leader Tymoshenko reiterated on Wednesday that she would not join a coalition with the Party of Regions under any circumstances.

The Party of Regions, supported in the Russian-speaking east and south of the country, said talks with the pro-presidential bloc earlier planned for Thursday did not take place, without elaborating further.

Yanukovych's party is expected to receive the largest number of seats, 175, in the 450-seat Supreme Rada. But the Tymoshenko and Our Ukraine blocs, with 156 and 72 seats respectively, are likely to form a governing majority outseating the current premier. At least 226 seats are required to establish a parliamentary majority.

Yanukovych's allies, the Communists, scored 27 seats, and former speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn's bloc claims 20 seats.

The latter has no clear affiliation. Its members have already held preliminary talks with the Party of Regions, and plan a meeting with the "orange" camp.

Asked whether the pro-presidential bloc would sacrifice the post of parliamentary speaker to Lytvyn to secure his bloc's support, Lutsenko said this would be clear after the talks.

The position of speaker and security portfolios in the Cabinet will go to Our Ukraine-People's Self Defense under a pre-election power-sharing deal with Tymoshenko, who is seeking to regain the premiership.

The "orange" alliance is widely expected to end Yanukovych's dominance in parliament and government, promising a stronger line toward European integration. But given a history of their side-swapping and squabbles over Cabinet posts, concerns persist about a fresh political crisis in Ukraine.

The president dismissed the legislature in April and called snap elections to end a deadlock with Yanukovych. The political foes agreed on the September 30 vote following months of litigation and street rallies.

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