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Ukraine's Yanukovych announces early presidential election

Ukraine's Yanukovych announces early presidential election

PanARMENIAN.Net - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has agreed to hold a presidential election before the end of the year, as part of a deal to end the crisis. He said he had also agreed to a national unity government, and to make constitutional changes reducing the power of the president, BBC News reports.

The compromise came after hours of talks with the opposition leaders. The opposition has not spoken about the deal and it remains unclear whether protesters will back it.

The German and Polish Foreign Ministers, who mediated the talks in Kiev, are now on their way to talk to protesters in Kyiv's Independence Square.

"Delicate moment over agreement on the settlement of the crisis. All sides need to remember that compromise means getting less than 100%," Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said.

"In these tragic days, when Ukraine has suffered such heavy losses, when people have been killed on both sides of the barricades, I consider it my duty in the light of the holy memory of the dead to declare that there is nothing more important than human life," President Yanukovych said in a written statement, according to Reuters.

"And there are no steps that we should not take to restore peace in Ukraine," he said in the statement, published on the presidential website.

"I am also starting the process of a return to the 2004 constitution with a rebalancing of powers towards a parliamentary republic," he said. "I call for the start of procedures for forming a government of national unity."

According to BBC News, Ukrainian broadcaster ICTV said it had seen a copy of the deal, and it had been signed by all parties.

According to the report, the deal contains:

-The 2004 constitution will be restored within 48 hours, and a national unity government will be formed within 10 days;

-Constitutional reform balancing the powers of president, government and parliament will be started immediately and completed by September;

-A presidential election will be held after the new constitution is adopted but no later than December 2014.

Protesters and police are still locked in a stand-off in Kyiv, a day after dozens were killed in violent clashes. Isolated outbursts of violence were reported in central Kyiv on Friday, Feb 21 morning.

The police said they had traded gunfire with protesters, and Ukrainian media said riot police were patrolling inside parliament during a session.

MPs once again began their session with scuffles, as the speaker tried to adjourn a debate concerning constitutional changes.

The protests first erupted in late November when President Yanukovych rejected a landmark association and trade deal with the EU in favor of closer ties with Russia.

Thursday was the bloodiest day since the unrest began.

Police opened fire after protesters tried to push them away from the makeshift camps they have been occupying in central Kyiv.

The health ministry said 77 people had been killed since Tuesday, and another 577 were injured. But activists suggested the death toll was likely to be much higher.

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