Poroshenko plans to repeal Donbass special status law, will back Yatsenyuk as prime minister

By bne IntelliNews November 4, 2014

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Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko will repeal a law giving special status to rebel-held districts in the eastern Donbass region, he said in an address to the nation on November 3.

The move comes in response to unrecognised elections held by the Russian-backed insurgents of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics on November 2. Poroshenko called these elections a "farce" and said they breached peace accords signed in Minsk on September 5, between representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the rebels and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The Minsk peace accords ushered in a ceasefire that stopped bloodshed in Donbas that have cost more than 3,000 lives.

"One of the issues to be submitted for consideration by the National Security and Defence Council is the abolishment of the law on specific order of local government in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions," Poroshenko told Ukrainians in the televised address. He left little doubt that the council would decide on November 4 in favour of revoking the law, saying that this was justified because "we are ready to provide broad powers stipulated by the law only to the legally elected local government, not to the bandits who crown themselves".

Poroshenko said that the law on special status - controversially passed in a closed session parliament on October 15 - had served its purpose in stopping a Russian invasion and showing that Ukraine was ready for political compromise to attain peace. "The militants have rejected this opportunity," he said.

Poroshenko held out the possibility of passing a new law on special status for rebel-held Donbass, should rebels act in full conformity with the Minsk peace accords. "We will be willing to approve a new law if all the parties return to fulfillment of the Minsk protocol, namely ceasefire, creation of a buffer zone, border control and militants' clear actions that imply the reverse in the so-called elections of November 2," he said.

Coalition government

Poroshenko also told Ukrainians that his eponymous party Petro Poroshenko Bloc won landmark parliamentary elections held on October 26, having garnered the largest number of MPs, 132. "It is much more than from any other political force," Poroshenko pointed out. Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk's party People's Front will form the second largest parliamentary group with 82 seats in parliament. 

But Yatsenyuk also claims to won the poll, since the People's Front took a marginally larger share of the total vote - 22.14%, compared to 21.82% taken by Poroshenko's party.

Both men have said that according to European practice, the party winning the polls has the right to nominate the prime minister, and draw up a coalition agreement as the basis for talks on forming a government. Under Ukraine's constitution, the prime minister also appoints government ministers excluding the defence, interior and foreign ministers, which are appointed by the president.

Yatsenyuk had previously said that he would not take the job of prime minister if his party was not recognised as the winner of the elections, with consequent powers to form the government. Poroshenko for his part is believed by analysts to prefer his party colleague and currently deputy prime minister Volodymyr Hroisman for the post of prime minister. 

Poroshenko announced a compromise solution in his address to the nation  - that his party will nominate Yatsenyuk for the post of prime minister, but "jointly coordinate" the coalition agreement according to which the government will act.  "The future parliamentary group of the party Block of Petro Poroshenko has already supported my initiative to appoint Arseny Yatsenyuk as the head of the new government," he said. "The principle lies in a joint coordination of the European-style coalition agreement," he underlined.

Petro Poroshenko Bloc published a fifty page long coalition agreement immediately following the elections, with People's Front then publishing their own draft coalition agreement, which ran to less than three pages.

"The coalition agreement is a contract between the coalition and the country. It cannot be a three-page document," Poroshenko said, adding that "the thicker the coalition agreement is, the better".

Poroshenko said that the new government would not be appointed along party quota lines, as in the past, but according to aptitude. "It needs to be deprived of the unprofessionalism and corrupt shackles of the party-quota principle. It must be formed solely on a professional basis," he said.

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