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Second time’s the charm for Yekhanurov
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, Sept. 22 - Parliament overwhelmingly approved Yuriy Yekhanurov, an ally of President Viktor Yushchenko, as the new prime minister Thursday, a move likely to bring to an end a two-week political crisis in Ukraine.

Lawmakers voted 289-0 to approve the nomination of Yekhanurov in 450-seat Parliament, opening way for appointment of other ministers to the Cabinet.

The development is a major victory for Yushchenko, who spent four hours on Wednesday meeting political groups trying to secure support for the nomination.

The crisis escalated in early September, when Tymoshenko and former national security chief, Petro Poroshenko, had traded mutual accusations of corruption. Yushchenko sacked both on Sept. 8, sending the country's politics in turmoil.

"The past 12 days were perhaps the most difficult ones in my life," Yushchenko said after the vote. "I am happy now that during a very sensitive time when for many a period of disappointment has begun the nation and political groups had demonstrated unity."

Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn also praised the approval of Yekhanurov. "The first and the most important thing is that we have brought in stability," Lytvyn said.

Yekhanurov, a supporter of liberal economic policy, pledged to stop the previous government's policy of re-privatization, an issue that analysts said had crippled the country's economic growth this year.

Tymoshenko has been waging persistent attacks against tycoons that have obtained assets during the regime of former President Leonid Kuchma, but the policy had scared off foreign investors and had sharply reduced investments into the economy.

Yekhanurov's nomination was rejected Tuesday. Yushchenko had spent most of Wednesday in talks with different groups trying to garner sufficient support and renominated Yekhanurov.

An hour before the vote, Yushchenko signed an agreement with the Regions Party, the major opposition group that had promised to support Yekhanurov in exchange for stopping re-privatization policy and other issues pursued by the previous government.

"The agreement was sighed one hour before the vote," said Ihor Shkirya, a member of the Regions Party, whose 50 lawmakers had backed Yekhanurov. The comment explains why Yekhanurov received the overwhelming support.

The agreement with the Regions Party also calls for an end to what the opposition lawmakers call repressions against their allies and ensures that Yushchenko will not seek to suspend constitutional amendments that are due to start Jan. 1, 2006.

The amendments, approved in December 2004, reduce powers of the president and give more powers to the prime minister, such as the right to nominate and approve ministers and regional governors. (tl/ez)




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