Ukraine's President Victor Yanukovych has said he will retract laws banning protests, as the opposition stepped up rallies and its leader rejected an offer to become the country's prime minister.

In a statement on the presidential website Justice Minister Elena Lukash said "a political decision was made on scrapping the laws of Jan. 16, which aroused much discussion.'' 

The statement came after a meeting between President Yanukovych and top opposition figures late on Monday. 

The statement also said one of the opposition leaders, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, had rejected Yanukovych's offer to become prime minister.

The rallies, which began more than two months ago, were mostly peaceful and were triggered by Yanukovich's rejection of a pact with the European Union under Russian pressure.

They turned violent, however, after Yanukovych pushed those laws through parliament. Protesters are now aspiring to oust him from power.

Eliminating the laws is likely to be done in a special parliament session on Tuesday.

Anti-government protesters have alreadyattempted to blockade 14 of the 25 regional administrations, including in southern and eastern parts of the nation of 46 million that predominantly speak Russian and share an historical allegiance to Moscow.

The EU has urged dialogue between the two sides, a call echoed by Pope Francis, who voiced hope in his weekly Angelus prayer that "the search for common good may prevail in the hearts of all".

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies