Ukraine’s political tensions have erupted into a parliamentary punch-up. It came as members prepared to vote on the dismissal of the speaker, a long-time ally of President Viktor Yushchenko.
The pro-Western leader had earlier announced he was abandoning plans to hold an early election before the end of the year.
He said the country needed to focus on coping with the effects of the global financial crisis. Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenka, Yuschcenko’s one-time ally, blamed him for the dismissal of the speaker, Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
She said the President was driving the “final nail into the democratic coalition.”
Yushchenko had called the election, saying it was the only way to resolve political deadlock after the break-up of a coalition of groups led by him and Tymoshenko. She had been his partner in the 2004 “Orange Revolution” but now is his arch-rival.
With the sacking of the speaker the parliament is all but paralysed and the political crisis gripping the country is even deeper.