Ukraine rejects test vote against Yanukovich

Parliament rejects plan to oust prime minister as anti-government protests escalate, leaving the two sides in deadlock.

    Ukraine's parliament has rejected a motion to hold a no confidence vote against the prime minister, who is allied with President Viktor Yanukovich, leaving the country's high political tensions unresolved.

    The motion on Tuesday fell short of the 226 votes required to oust Prime Minister Mykola Azarov over Ukraine's refusal to sign a historic EU trade and political pact.

    "Blocking the work of state institutions is not a peaceful demonstration. This has all the signs of a coup. That is very serious.

    Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov

    Azarov had warned that the anti-government demonstrations in the capital Kiev are getting "out of control" and could turn into a coup.

    Earlier, Al Jazeera's Rory Challands, reporting from Kiev, said that the debate inside the parliament had descended into "shouting and shoving" between administration and opposition politicians.

    Opposition members shouted "shame" and "revolution" as pro-government lawmakers spoke, while opposition speakers drew boos and jeer.

    Outside, demonstrations are continuing and crowds are now blockading the main government buildings, in an ongoing standoff after President Viktor Yanukovich failed to sign a key EU pact.

    "Blocking the work of state institutions is not a peaceful demonstration. This has all the signs of a coup," Azarov told ambassadors from the European Union, Canada, and the United States. "That is very serious."

    Over the weekend, police forced the protesters off the square, causing injuries to nearly 200 people, including journalists.

    Horrified reaction

    The crackdown led to a horrified reaction in the West and the demand by current EU chair Lithuania to launch a probe.

    Azarov said Ukraine's authorities were "ready for dialogue" with the protesters and promised that violence would not be used against peaceful demonstrators.

    "The authorities are guaranteeing non-use of force against peaceful protesters," he said.

    As the demonstration rages, Yanukovich is set to travel to China, leaving the country plunged into crisis by his decision to spurn a landmark EU deal, and boost ties with Ukraine's Soviet ally Russia.

    Our correspondent said Yanukovich's decision to leave for China is seen as "running away from the country at a time when he should be here."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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