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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 December, 2004, 13:48 GMT
Ukraine MPs vote down government
Ukrainian opposition lawmakers celebrate in parliament in Kiev
There were emotional scenes in parliament after the vote
Ukraine's parliament has passed a no-confidence motion in Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych as a crisis over the disputed presidential poll continues.

MPs narrowly backed an opposition bid to dismiss Mr Yanukovych and his government on grounds of mismanagement.

He asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to annul the contentious second round of the presidential poll.

Electoral authorities say Mr Yanukovych beat the opposition's Viktor Yushchenko despite claims of vote-rigging.

Ukraine's outgoing President Leonid Kuchma has formally proposed holding a new poll to end the stand-off.

BBC regional analyst Steven Eke says that while the opposition sees the parliamentary vote as a victory, Mr Kuchma's proposal is designed to undermine opposition momentum.

The US and the European Union said the 21 November election run-off fell short of democratic norms, and the Supreme Court has delayed publication of the results while it considers the vote-rigging allegations.

Meanwhile reports are circulating that a ruling by the court could come late on Wednesday.

Interim government

In parliament, 229 MPs - three more than required - voted in favour of sacking Mr Yanukovych as prime minister and creating an interim government.

It was the second attempt to pass the no-confidence motion after Tuesday's session ended without agreement.

Our correspondent says the government will not automatically be dismissed now the resolution has been passed, as this requires the signature of the president.

Ukrainian opposition supporters and police outside parliament
Opposition supporters massed outside the parliament building

Forcing through the dissolution without presidential approval would require a larger majority: two-thirds of MPs, or 301 votes.

However, the decision certainly has symbolic significance and keeps up the pressure on Mr Yanukovych, our correspondent says.

Nestor Shufrych, a member of Mr Yanukovych's party, described the vote as "howls and snivellings" on the part of parliament.

"The president is the guardian of the constitution and he won't pay attention to this. He won't take this seriously," Mr Shufrych told the BBC.

He said it was an illegal decision and that they would contest it in the Constitutional Court.

In a separate vote, the local parliament in Mr Yanukovych's home region of Donetsk decided to hold a referendum on 9 January to seek autonomy from central government.

Mediation efforts

At the same time, international mediators are converging on Ukraine in a fresh attempt to break the deadlock brought about by the disputed elections.

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and his Lithuanian counterpart Valdas Adamkus arrived in Kiev on Wednesday morning.

POLITICAL CRISIS TIMELINE
Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Yushchenko
21 Nov: Viktor Yanukovych declared winner of run-off poll
Independent observers declare the elections flawed, thousands take to the streets
25 Nov: Supreme Court suspends publication of result while it considers the opposition's complaints
26 Nov: Yanukovych and Yushchenko hold talks and agree to seek peaceful solution
27 Nov: MPs declare poll invalid, pass vote of no-confidence in election commission
28 Nov: Threat by eastern regions to secede if Yushchenko declared president
29 Nov: Supreme Court starts considering complaints of poll abuses and arguments of pro-government camp
30 Nov: Parliament rejects motion of no-confidence in government

Russian official Boris Gryzlov will also be joining EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to seek an end to the crisis, following the collapse of talks between the two sides.

"I hope that with the goodwill of everyone, we will make some progress in the coming days," Mr Solana said on Tuesday night before a meeting with President Kuchma.

However, our correspondent says the chances of a breakthrough in negotiations do not look good.

Mr Kuchma told an economic conference on Wednesday that he had already suggested the holding of a new presidential election.

Simply re-running the 21 November vote would be "unconstitutional", he said.

"Where in the world do they have a third round of elections? A re-run of the election is a farce," he added.

The outgoing president's comments came a day after Mr Yanukovych said he would only agree to a re-run of the election - proposed as a compromise solution - if the two candidates did not stand again.




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