[JURIST] Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko [official website; BBC profile] announced in a national address Wednesday that he was postponing until June 24 [press release] parliamentary elections originally scheduled for May 27 to avoid funding problems and allow more time for preparation ahead of a vote. The postponement came as Ukraine's Constitutional Court [official website] completed its public hearings [JURIST report] on the legality of Yushchenko's April 2 dissolution of parliament [decree text; Yushchenko statement] and is seen as a political gesture [JURIST report] towards the government of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, Yushchenko's arch-rival, who has challenged [JURIST report] the dissolution decree with the support of his current majority in the Ukrainian parliament. The 18-member Constitutional Court is slated to deliver its ruling May 5. AP has more.
Yushchenko has insisted [JURIST report] that his decree was proper under the Ukrainian constitution [DOC text]. Yushchenko and Yanukovych were fierce rivals in the 2004 presidential election [JURIST report], the results of which were invalidated by the country's Supreme Court [JURIST report] following fraud allegations. Yushchenko was sworn in as Ukraine's president [JURIST report] in January 2005 on the wings of the populist Orange Revolution [BBC timeline] after winning a re-vote. Yushchenko reluctantly accepted Yanukovych as prime minister last June and the two have since clashed over parliamentary attempts to expand the cabinet's power [JURIST reports] at the expense of the presidency.