The Ukrainian president,Viktor Yushchenko, has criticised his parliamentary coalition allies, after they blocked him from taking the podium for his annual address to the legislature.
Loyal to the prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, parliament members encircled the podium on Tuesday, and one of them occupied the speaker’s chair.
This incident reflects growing tensions between the president and his prime minister (photo).
The president also rejected calls for another early parliamentary election. The last one was held in September.
“I understand that early elections are a live issue for some political forces, but I say a categorical no.”
Reduce the president’s powers
He also ruled out a “reorganisation of the coalition” and accused the government of “populism”.
According to analysts, the split between Ukraine’s two most prominent politicians is getting worse because both might contest a presidential poll, due to be hold in 2009 or 2010.
Yulia Tymoshenko, and other opposition groups have threatened constitutional amendments that would reduce the president’s powers.
Mr Yushchenko and Mrs Tymoshenko lead together the 2004 Orange revolution which peacefully overturned a rigged election that was originally awarded to a Moscow-backed candidate.
But Viktor Yushchenko sacked Yulia Tymoshenkoin 2005, when she first held the premiership.