KIEV, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko abandoned attempts for a pro-Western government coalition Wednesday, dissolving Parliament and calling for an early election.
"I hereby declare the activities of ... Parliament to be suspended and call an early parliamentary election," Yushchenko said in a television address. "The vote will take place in democratic and lawful fashion."
It will be the third parliamentary election in less than three years and will throw the ex-Soviet, politically volatile nation into further political turmoil just as it is severely battered by the global financial crisis.
The decision culminates a fierce battle between Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, his estranged former partner in the Orange Revolution that shook this former Soviet republic loose from the grip of Russian influence and launched often chaotic democracy for its 46 million people. Both are seen as likely rivals in the 2010 presidential vote.
Opinion polls show that Yushchenko's party is likely to lose parliament seats in the new vote. Tymoshenko, who has fought to revive their coalition and retain power, says the president's only motivation for dissolving the Verkhovna Rada is removing her from her job.
Yushchenko made a televised address to the nation late Wednesday, accusing Tymoshenko of ignoring national interests for the sake of acquiring power.
"I am deeply convinced that the democratic coalition was ruined by one thing — the ambition of one person, the hunger for power ... and the dominance of personal interests over national ones," Yushchenko said.
The announcement was likely to spark protests from Tymoshenko, who had sought to cling on to her job. Tymoshenko had said that calling an election before late November would be unconstitutional and has vowed to challenge such a decision.
Supporters from Tymoshenko's party have already threatened mass protests.
Still, Tymoshenko has also previously suggested holding early presidential elections alongside parliamentary ones, hinting that she would run.
Yushchenko defended his move as the only way to preserve the country's democracy and national interests.
"They wanted to turn us back and then, as now, I am defending our future," Yushchenko said. "The vote will be democratic and lawful."
Yushchenko pulled out of the their nine-month-old coalition last month, after Tymoshenko sided with the opposition to trim his powers and over disagreements related to ties with Russia.
According to a Times of London report, Tymoshenko questioned the health of Yushchenko in a meeting with Russian officials in Moscow last week.
Mocking a nearly fatal dioxin poisoning attempt on Yushchenko that left his face badly disfigured, she said, "The main poisoning is the poison of unlimited power, a serious intoxication in the presidential secretariat."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.