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Ukraine's President Accepts Tymoshenko as Prime Minister


Leaders of Ukraine's Orange Revolution, who suffered a bitter falling out more than two years ago, may be working together again following the nomination of Yulia Tymoshenko as prime minister. VOA Moscow Correspondent Peter Fedynsky has this report.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has quickly agreed to the nomination of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former ally and recent foe, as prime minister. Her name was advanced Thursday by supporters in Ukraine's parliament, the Supreme Rada. The president could have waited as long as 15 days.

Mr. Yushchenko insists, however, that lawmakers must follow through on an understanding to institute political reform as a condition of his agreement to approve the nomination of any candidate for prime minister.

The Ukrainian leader says there are a number of issues facing the coalition that are worth resolving before a new government is formed. He says he will discuss these matters with the new Rada speaker, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, but is also not opposed to confirming the prime minister followed by passage of reforms.

These include lifting parliamentary immunity and returning some powers to the presidency that had been transferred to the cabinet of ministers.

The Supreme Rada has five days to approve Ms. Tymoshenko's nomination.

Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko stood side by side during the mass street protests, known as the Orange Revolution, against a fraudulent presidential election in late 2004. Within nine months of assuming power, however, they had a bitter falling out over mutual accusations of corruption and lack of professionalism. The dispute disenchanted many participants in the Orange Revolution.

Ukraine then had several more heads of government before the president agreed to the nomination of Viktor Yanukovych as prime minister. He was Mr. Yushchenko's rival in the fraudulent 2004 presidential poll and is also head of the Regions Party, an organization with wide support in Ukraine's industrial and Russian-speaking east.

That party ran in parliamentary elections on September 30 against the rival political organizations of Tymoshenko and Mr. Yuschenko, both considered Orange parties. The president's Our Ukraine party came in third, but with enough seats to give Mr. Yushchenko an option of forming a coalition.

After about two months, Mr. Yushchenko opted for an Orange Coalition, disappointing Regions supporters, who won a plurality of the recent parliamentary vote.

Analysts say Ukraine is likely to face continued political turbulence as its three leading politicians jockey for position in the country's presidential election two years from now.

Oleksiy Haran, political science professor at the Kyiv Mohyla Academy, a leading Ukrainian university, says Regions could benefit from being in the minority.

Being in the opposition, says Haran, will allow Regions to criticize the government and score political points in the lead up to the upcoming presidential election.

But he also notes a tendency of many Ukrainian politicians to engage in populist rhetoric before elections, which could delay long-overdue political and economic reforms.

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