London, Feb 22 IANS | 9 months ago

Ukraine's opposition protesters have apparently taken over control of the government district in capital Kiev even as President Viktor Yanukovych's whereabouts are unknown.

Opposition leaders said that President Yanukovych must stand down immediately, BBC reported Saturday.

According to the report, there was no sign of security forces inside the previously heavily guarded presidential complex in Kiev, though some government employees arrived for work.

The report added that the protesters were standing on the grounds of the building in disbelief.

The protesters have called for elections by May 25 instead of by the end of December as envisaged in Friday's peace deal between the government and the protesters.

The deal included provisions for constitutional changes that would limit presidential power, and for holding early presidential elections in December 2014.

The agreement followed overnight meetings involving President Yanukovych and opposition leaders along with the foreign ministers of Poland, France and Germany, and the chairman of Russia's Human Rights Commission.

Yanukovch made concessions to the opposition to avoid further bloodshed and casualties among the demonstrators and police officers.

Despite the EU-mediated agreement signed Friday, thousands of people remained on the streets of Kiev and parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Rybak resigned, citing ill health.

Vitaly Klitschko, leader of the opposition Udar party,was quoted as telling parliament as it met Saturday: "We must, as the people demand, adopt a resolution calling on Yanukovych to immediately resign."

President Yanukovych was not present in the parliament. There are unconfirmed reports that he has left Kiev and living in Kharkiv in the east, close to the Russian border.

Police had opened fire on protesters who were occupying Independence Square in central Kiev Thursday.

The the country's health ministry said that 77 people, including protesters and police personnel, had been killed since Tuesday.

(Posted on 22-02-2014)

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