Ukraine Rivals Reach Deal

Ukraine rivals reach deal (AP)

Ukraine’s opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko signed a deal Wednesday that obliged his supporters to lift their siege of government buildings, but he said his supporters will stay on the streets until a deal is reached on a new vote.

After talks with the declared official winner of the presidential runoff Viktor Yanukovych, Yushchenko proposed that a new vote be held Dec. 19 to resolve the crisis over the disputed balloting.

It was not immediately clear whether Yushchenko was calling for a rerun of the Nov. 21 runoff that pitted him against Yanukovych or an entirely new election, with other candidates taking part. His supporters have pressed for a new runoff only.

While not the optimal solution–simply declaring Yushchenko, who clearly won the election, the winner would be preferable–this should avoid a violent outcome.

Update (1425): Opposition to end Ukraine blockade (CNN)

Yushchenko, left, and Yanukovych shake hands following Wednesday's news conference. Ukraine’s opposition has agreed to end its blockade of government buildings, and both sides agreed to talk again after the Supreme Court rules on allegations of fraud in the presidential election. Outgoing President Leonid Kuchma announced the agreement following negotiations Wednesday between the two sides in the dispute, which has all but paralyzed the former Soviet-bloc nation. The agreement was signed by Kuchma, European envoys, opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, the declared winner of the presidential contest.

The deal came after parliament passed a vote of no-confidence in Yanukovych’s government, and after his representatives admitted in court there had been fraud in the election — but in areas that supported Yushchenko. The Supreme Court has been considering Yushchenko’s claims that fraud and voter intimidation swayed the November 21 election to Yanukovych.

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After the announcement, Yushchenko said his supporters would stay on the streets until a deal is reached on rerunning the disputed election. “Protests in the streets will of course continue,” The Associated Press quoted Yushchenko as saying. “They would be lifted only after a date is set for a new election and changes introduced into the election law.” Yushchenko told supporters on Kiev’s main square he would only agree to a rerun of the vote, and not an entirely new election from scratch. Under Ukrainian law, if a new election were held, neither Yushchenko or Yanukovych would be allowed to enter the race.

One suspects the required changes will pass.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.