Yanukovich Offers Yushchenko Prime Minister Job
Ukraine PM’s desperate offer (The Australian)
UKRAINE’S peaceful orange revolution was on the brink of victory last night as the thousands in Kiev’s Independence Square cheered the latest concession from the country’s authoritarian regime. Pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, the official winner of presidential elections widely claimed to have been rigged, last night offered the prime ministership to pro-Western rival Viktor Yushchenko. “If my victory is confirmed, I am ready to offer the post of prime minister to Viktor Yushchenko,” said Mr Yanukovich, adding that under proposed constitutional reforms the post would become the most important in the country. If, however, the result is annulled by the Supreme Court, which last night began a second day of hearings into Mr Yanukovich’s complaint that Sunday’s election was stolen from him, he would propose holding a new poll without either of them as a candidate.
Mr Yushchenko rejected the desperate offer to cling to power. “No, I cannot accept these proposals,” he said.
As the protest movement became more confident that momentum was heading its way, Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder that Moscow would respect the results of any new election. Mr Yanukovich’s mentor, outgoing President Leonid Kuchma, less than 24 hours earlier conceded that the election should be re-run. Mr Kuchma, who has ruled the former Soviet state for the past decade, said this appeared to be the only way to resolve the crisis that has seen hundreds of thousands of protesters rally on the streets of Kiev and other cities in freezing conditions for more than a week.
Mr Yushchenko is widely expected to win any fair election, after his popularity has been demonstrated by the size and passion of the crowds that have jammed the streets waving flags and scarves of orange, his campaign colour.
This one appears to be about over. If the supreme court rules that Yanukovich committed fraud and Yushchenko actually won, simply installing Yushchenko certainly makes more sense than a do-over election.