[JURIST] Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko [official website; BBC profile] has refused to rescind Monday's decree [statement] ordering parliament to dissolve and new elections to be held in May as the constitutional crisis in Ukraine continues. On Tuesday, Yushchenko met with his main political rival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych [BBC profile], in an attempt to persuade Yanukovych to withdraw an court appeal [JURIST report] seeking to block the decree and allow the current parliament to remain in power. Earlier Tuesday, Yanukovych said [speech transcript] the purpose of the president's decree is to usurp power, to discredit parliamentarism, and to "guarantee power retention for some individuals regardless of any results of the elections." Yushchenko defended the decree [commentary, subscription required] in Tuesday's Financial Times, writing:
Ukraine's young democracy today faces a new and dangerous challenge, one that requires a firm and immediate response. It comes from a ruling coalition that has exceeded its mandate and attempted to monopolise political power, even at the cost of violating the constitution and ignoring the democratically expressed wishes of the Ukrainian people.
On Wednesday, the parliament passed a resolution [RIA Novosti report] accusing Yushchenko of staging a coup attempt. The Financial Times has more.
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.