Opposition leaders, backed by protesters in the streets, want a
return to a constitution enacted in 2004 that would move substantial
powers over the government from the president to parliament — a
proposal rejected by President Viktor Yanukovich and his supporters,
who have had a majority in the legislature.
Speaker Volodymyr Rybak, from Yanukovich's Party of the Regions,
said leaders of the parliamentary groups would meet in committee
with himself and representatives of the president with the aim of
producing a bill within the next few days.
"Next week, we should take a decision — maybe on Tuesday, Wednesday — to consider this draft law," he told lawmakers.
Party loyalties in the 450-seat, single-chamber parliament have been
fluid. It remains unclear that a consensus can be found to change
the constitution or that the opposition can rally a majority to push
through the amendments it wants.
Yanukovich is expected to name a new prime minister soon to replace
the premier who stepped down last week in a so far unsuccessful
effort to appease opponents who have occupied central Kiev and
public buildings in other cities.
Ultimately, opposition leaders and protesters want rid of
Yanukovich, whose rule they see as dominated by corrupt business
interests and by pressure from neighboring Russia.
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Protests began in November when the president spurned a trade deal
with the European Union and turned for financial aid to Moscow. The
confrontation in Ukraine has divided Western powers, the EU and
United States, which back the opposition, from Russia, which
(Reporting by Natalia Zinets; writing by Alastair Macdonald;
by Alison Williams)
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