Ben Aris in Berlin -
Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko shocked politicians in Kyiv late Wednesday by rebuffing his Orange Revolution ally Yulia Tymoshenko, bypassing the opportunity to form an Orange Coalition, and calling for all parties entering the Rada following Sunday's vote to form a grand coalition instead.
"I instruct the Party of the Regions, Yulia Timoshenko Bloc, Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense bloc and the other winners of the parliamentary elections to begin preliminary consultations on forming a majority in the parliament and forming a government for the country," Yushchenko said, according to Kommersant.
Yushchenko added that true political stability can be attained only through mutual understanding.
With 98% of the votes counted, a coalition of the pro-president's Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense bloc and the Tymoshenko bloc had enough votes between them to form a government without the need for an alliance with one of the small parties and so oust the ruling Party of Regions, headed by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.
Yushchenko's move is the "right thing" to do, as he is obviously concerned with healing the rift between western and eastern Ukraine caused by the previous elections. However, the move also smacks of political naivetÃ© as the three parties would make extremely poor bedfellows.
Tymoshenko has already rejected the offer and repeated earlier comments that she would rather stay in opposition than join forces with Regions.
"We are honest before people," she said, according to Kommersant. "Again, we assure you that, if there is a coalition between Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense and the Party of the Regions, our political force will remain in the opposition."
Confusion reigned at Our Ukraine headquarters. Boris Tarasyuk, leader of the People's Rukha and No. 11 on the Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense party list, was at a loss to explain the president's motives. He said that his party would leave the bloc if a coalition with the Party of the Regions was created, Kommersant reported.
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