Ukraine politicians decide to form Government of National Unity

What is unfolding in Ukraine is quite similar to the demonstrations in Brazil, Thailand, Venezuela and here in the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. The people are unhappy with their respective governments and have been using their democratic rights to head to the streets to make known their anti-government feelings and frustrations.

Whether they have been inspired by the so called Arab Spring in places like Yemen, Libya, Egypt, Syria and other places, is not known, but since the last quarter of 2012 the world has been witnessing a new surge in anti-government protests and street demonstrations.

This too has been the case in St. Kitts and Nevis, where opposition politicians have been clamouring for the Speaker of the National Assembly to allow debate and vote on a motion of no confidence, filed since 11th December, 2012, some 14 months ago.

It was partly the steadfast refusal of the Speaker to budge on the issue that eventually convinced members of the opposition and two parliamentarians, who previously served in government, to come together to establish a united front against the Speaker and the Government, in the interest of democracy, as they explained their actions.

Despite legal challenges, favourable court rulings, protests and calls from civil society, the motion remains at bay. When the opposition turned to other Prime Ministers and government leaders in other Caribbean states, they refused to act, saying that there is no strife and crisis and that Kittitians and Nevisians must work out their own problems, using all legal and constitutional means at their disposal. Some in the opposition here have interpreted those remarks, especially from the Prime Minister of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, to mean that since there is no bloodshed, CARICOM and OECS ought not to intervene.

So while opposition members in St. Kitts went back to the streets on Friday 21st February, again targeting the Speaker of Parliament, Curtis Martin, urging him to call the motion, more people in Ukraine were being shot down in the streets by police snipers. Within the last 24 hours alone, approximately 100 people were killed. Scores of others were also killed in recent days, including members of the security forces. Some European governments have been strong in their condemnation with at least one telling the President Viktor Yanukovich, he has the blood of his people on his hands.

Now, the government says, it’s time to talk and form a unity government.

So today, Friday, Ukraine’s president and opposition leaders considered a political agreement with the hope of stopping the massacre while also curbing some of the powers being exercised by the president.

The deal also calls for early elections but Yanukovich says he wants to remain in power until December, at least. The opposition is however demanding that the president resigns immediately. He say they do not trust him. And they accuse him of being a dictator who is selling out their country to the Russians, while their desire is to forge closer ties with Europe.

Protestors who have been occupying Independence Square in Kiev, the main site of the demonstrations and violence, have swiftly rejected the deal.

They have promised to fight the government until Yanukovich steps down. Here in Basseterre, the opposition too, seems determined that their demands for either elections now or the vote on the no confidence motion, will continue until “democracy prevails”. On Friday, they too were in their Independence Square and Central Street, in their capital, protesting.

The agreement announced in Ukraine on Yanukovich’s website, would “initiate” early elections, return to the 2004 version of Ukraine’s constitution, and form a government of “national trust.”

However, missing was a date for the elections. Reports are also suggesting that the deal would see the country revert to its 2004 constitution within 48 hours, form a coalition government within 10 days, and hold elections in December, just a couple months before they were originally scheduled.

Some media reports have said the United States has been pushing Yanukovich, with Vice President Joe Biden calling the Ukrainian president on Thursday, warning that Washington was prepared to impose sanctions.

It is now known that the Obama administration and Congress “are both readying new sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans on those deemed responsible for the violence. Those measures would add to similar moves this week by The European Union and Canada.”

In Basseterre, meanwhile, the opposition has called on CARICOM to intervene and force the government of Dr. Denzil Douglas to either facilitate the motion against him or call immediate elections. This seems unlikely, at least for now. Douglas has said though his party is stronger and ready, he will keep the opposition waiting. He added that he does not intend to call any poll until he is certain that all his candidates, especially new ones, will win.

While the politicians in Ukriane are working to form a government of National Unity, the opposition in St. Kitts and Nevis, is still waiting for the opportunity to form theirs.

For the time being, and as the wait and see continues, moving into its 15th month, (this March), Team Unity, as the 3 party coalition calls itself, continues its protest actions in a peaceful manner.


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