Ukraine: Cabinet left without a Foreign Minister?

Ukraine’s Cabinet is expected to hold a session on Wednesday. It is not clear whether the country's Foreign Minister, Boris Tarasyuk, will be admitted to the meeting.

Pro-presidential Boris Tarasyuk was forced to resign by the Rada on December 1, but Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko said the Foreign Minister would remain in his post. 

Viktor Yushchenko countermanded the parliamentary vote asking the Foreign Minister to stay on.  

During a private meeting with President Yushchenko the Prime Minister asked the latter not to dramatise the situation and respect the parliamentary vote. 

Boris Tarasyuk says his firing was unconstitutional. The case is now being examined by a local court. However, the Parliament insists that it is not the local court that should deal with the case. Members of Parliament add they were not even invited to the hearing and learnt about it from the newspapers. 

The court is likely to continue proceedings next week. 

The dispute is focused on whether the President has the right to fire the Foreign Minister or is this the prerogative of the government and parliament. While the constitution of Ukraine stipulates that the President is responsible for appointing the Minister of Foreign Affairs it does not say clearly who has the power to fire him. Apparently, in this situation the Constitutional court could help.

As for the opposition reaction, they said right from the start that this was part of a war against the block of Yulia Timoshenko and the Our Ukraine party. 

The opposition party is now calling for the abolition of the constitutional reform adopted at the beginning of 2006. The reform turned Ukraine into a parliamentary republic, cutting most of the President’s powers. It is only the Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministries that remained under the President’s control. The rest of his powers were transferred to the Cabinet and the Prime Minister. As a result, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich has now more powers than the President.