KIEV, Aug. 5 ‚Äď Viktor Yanukovych, the leader of the Regions Party, a moderate pro-Russian group, was approved as the country‚Äôs new prime minister Friday following a coalition agreement with Our Ukraine, a pro-Western group.
The vote was followed by approval of the government, in which the Regions Party had received control over key positions that will shape the country‚Äôs economic and energy policies.
Our Ukraine, the second biggest partner in the coalition, retained control over foreign policy, defense sector and law enforcement agencies, which is supposed to help the country stay the pro-Western course.
The developments end more than four months of extremely difficult talks over the new government following the March 26 general election, which had been won by the Regions Party. The vote also ends uncertainty over the possibility of Parliament‚Äôs dismissal, which could trigger a new wave of political standoff.
‚ÄúThis will be appreciated by the market,‚ÄĚ Timothy Ash, an analyst with Bear Stearns International in London, said after the vote to approve Yanukovych.
Yanukovych received support from 273 lawmakers in the 450-seat Parliament. Most of the support came from the Regions Party, but also from Our Ukraine, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party. The government was approved by 269 lawmakers.
Meanwhile, only 30 lawmakers from Yushchenko‚Äôs party, Our Ukraine, out of 81, voted to support Yanukovych, perhaps indicating there may be a split brewing within the group.
‚ÄúThis underscores why it has been so painful for Yushchenko in cutting a deal with Yanukovych, as the vote seems to have split Our Ukraine,‚ÄĚ Ash said. ‚ÄúYushchenko's credibility has suffered a major hit as he wasn't even able to get a majority of his own party to support his decision.‚ÄĚ
Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister and the leader of the largest pro-Western group in Parliament now controlling 123 seats, pledged on Friday to go in opposition to the new government.