UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT AND OPPOSITION SIGN EARLY POLL DEAL

21.02.14


BBC: Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders have signed a deal leading to an early presidential poll before the end of the year.

The election is part of an agreement to end the country's political crisis.

The deal provides for a national unity government, electoral reform and constitutional changes reducing the president's power.

The compromise came after hours of talks, mediated by three European Union foreign ministers.

The German and Polish ministers met demonstrators in Kiev's Independence Square before announcing that protest leaders backed the deal.

The agreement was later signed by Mr Yanukovych and opposition leaders Vitali Klitschko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleh Tyahnibok at the presidential administration headquarters in Kiev.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski tweeted that the deal was a "good compromise for Ukraine" which would open the way "to reform and to Europe".

The agreement, published by the German foreign ministry, includes the following:

  • The 2004 constitution will be restored within 48 hours, and a national unity government will be formed within 10 days
  • Constitutional reform balancing the powers of president, government and parliament will be started immediately and completed by September
  • A presidential election will be held after the new constitution is adopted but no later than December 2014 and new electoral laws will be passed
  • An investigation into recent acts of violence will be conducted under joint monitoring from the authorities, the opposition and the Council of Europe
  • The authorities will not impose a state of emergency and both the authorities and the opposition will refrain from the use of violence
  • Illegal weapons will be handed over to interior ministry bodies

Despite the agreement, isolated outbursts of violence were reported in central Kiev on Friday morning.

The police said they had traded gunfire with protesters, and Ukrainian media said riot police were patrolling inside parliament during a session.

MPs once again began the session with scuffles, as the speaker tried to adjourn a debate about constitutional reform.

The protests first erupted in late November when President Yanukovych rejected a landmark association and trade deal with the EU in favour of closer ties with Russia.

The deal comes after the bloodiest day since the unrest began.

Police opened fire early on Thursday after protesters tried to push them away from the makeshift camps they have been occupying in central Kiev.

The health ministry said 77 people had been killed since Tuesday, and another 577 were injured.

But activists suggested the death toll was likely to be much higher.

 

On Friday the US state department issued a travel warning advising its citizens to "defer non-essential travel" to Ukraine, saying that it had authorised "the departure of all family members of US government personnel from Ukraine".


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