Saturday

7th May 2016

Ukraine deal set to end conflict, lead to early elections

  • The Ukraine agreement was brokered with the help of the German, French and Polish foreign minister (Photo: mac_ivan)

A deal in Kiev promises to end an outbreak of violence, which has seen over 75 people killed in the past few days.

Embattled President Viktor Yanukovych and the leaders of the three opposition parties agreed on Friday (21 February) to a number of demands in a wider effort to stabilise the country, which has been gripped by three months of unrest.

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The deal calls for constitutional reforms, a coalition and national unity government, a law to restore the 2004 constitution, presidential elections by December, an independent investigation into the violence, and a promise not to impose a state of emergency.

The parliament has already voted to restore the 2004 constitution which weakens presidential powers.

Yanukovych has himself declared his intention to initiate early presidential elections.

Foreign ministers from Germany, France and Poland helped broker the agreement in Kiev.

All three released a joint statement commending “the parties for their courage and commitment to the agreement and call for an immediate end to all violence and confrontation in Ukraine.”

US ambassador to Ukraine Geoff Pyatt congratulated the three foreign ministers.

“This is a hopeful breakthrough,” he said.

EU council president Herman Van Rompuy also welcomed the agreement. “The EU continues to stand ready to support Ukraine,” he said.

"Implementation is key for the sake of country and its people," tweeted EU neighbourhood commissioner Stefan Fuele.

But not everyone is happy.

The leader of the militant, Pravy Sector, rejected Yanukovych's offer of a December presidential election, describing the leader and his close entourage as criminals.

The militant group, which is not among the three signatories, wants the interior minister arrested after snipers shot dead Maidan protestors in the square despite a ceasefire agreement.

Dramatic video footage posted online on Thursday show demonstrators on Institutska Street near Independence Square being shot. The shots continued to ring out as people rushed to drag away the wounded.

Ukraine's Health Ministry says 77 people are dead. Eleven of the dead are police officers.

The sudden upsurge in violence caught EU leaders off guard with member states promising punitive measures in response.

Targeted EU sanctions against those behind the violence announced Thursday remain in place despite the compromise agreement thrashed out in the early hours in Kiev.

Names have yet to be announced with Brussels officials still waiting for the sanction list to be sent from the EU delegation in Kiev, said an EU diplomat.

“It is difficult for me to say where we are at with the list of names but as I far as I understand it should be coming to Brussels from Kiev,” said the diplomat.

War crimes law poisons Serbia accession talks

Croatia wants its neighbour to scrap a law on universal juridiction in the former Yugoslavia. The request is delaying the opening of a new chapter of negotiations.

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