Source AP ©

Ukraine's President cuts short visit to Croatia because of crisis at home

Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko cut short his visit to Croatia and returned home after a hard-won agreement between him and his political rival to hold early elections was put into question, the Croatian president's office said Friday.

Yushchenko traveled back to Kiev on Thursday evening, President Stipe Mesic's office said.

Yushchenko had been scheduled to spend another day in Croatia, but decided to return home after Ukraine's parliament ended its session hours ahead of a deadline announced by Yushchenko to pass legislation supporting an agreement to hold early elections.

The deal, reached by Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych on Sunday to elect a new parliament Sept. 30, was to ease tension of a persistent power struggle in the ex-Soviet republic. But efforts to pass laws governing the vote have foundered this week amid mutual recriminations.

Yushchenko said Thursday in Zagreb that his allies would withdraw from parliament if the laws were not approved by midnight Thursday - a move he said would trigger a new election in two months.

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