KIEV (AFP) — Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko said Monday that he is to delay legislative elections by a week to December 14, recalling parliament to enact emergency measures to fight the global financial crisis.
"I am today signing a decree calling back parliament for several days," he told Ukrainian television, so that lawmakers can vote on "amendments to the budget and several dozen measures to combat the crisis.
The president's decision followed a call by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, in open conflict with Yushchenko, for political parties to meet Monday to form a team able to save Ukraine from the ravages of the economic crisis.
"I call on the Ukrainian president, on all the political forces and leaders of parliamentary factions with a simple and clear proposal," Tymoshenko said Sunday, offering "a strict moratorium on quarrels" between political leaders.
However, top politicians stayed away from Monday's gathering, which was denounced by Yushchenko and Ukraine's pro-Russian opposition leader, former president Viktor Yanukovich, who accused Tymoshenko of simply trying to cling onto power.
Deepening political strains have threatened to overshadow moves to address the financial crisis, which led Ukraine to hold crunch talks Friday on an emergency 14-billion-dollar loan from the IMF to prop up its fragile banking system.
As the talks continued with the International Monetary Fund, global ratings agency Fitch downgraded Ukraine's credit rating and issued a stark warning about the ex-Soviet republic's economic outlook.
Ukraine stopped early withdrawals from savings accounts this month in a bid to halt a run on banks.
The central bank has bailed out several banks and the Ukrainian stock market has lost more than 70 percent of its value this year.
Yushchenko used Monday's televised address to promise financial support for businesses struggling with the financial downturn.
But the country's financial woes are aggravated by a deep political crisis -- at the centre of which lies the president and the prime minister, frequently at odds since joining forces during the Orange Revolution of 2004.
Yushchenko dissolved parliament on October 8 and announced early elections set for December 7, a decision Tymoshenko did not accept, reiterating Sunday that elections "would not take place."
On Monday the President took a fresh swipe at the prime minister for opposing fresh elections, warning that challenging the elections' legality would further destabilise the political situation.
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