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Yushchenko resubmits his PM nominee to parliament
Updated: 2005-09-22 14:26

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has resubmitted his trusted ally Yury Yekhanurov as his nominee for prime minister to parliament after talks with political party leaders, the Ukrainian leader's official website announced, AFP reported.

Parliament is expected to vote on the candidacy at its Thursday session that Yushchenko is expected to attend, presidential spokeswoman Iryna Gerashcenko said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Yekhanurov came three votes short of the 226 needed in the 450-seat Upper Rada parliament for confirmation to succeed sacked premier Yulia Tymoshenko.

The rebuff was both a personal embarrassment to Yushchenko, who pleaded with lawmakers to approve his nominee for the sake of national stability, and a serious political blow to the president, who enjoyed unprecedented domestic and foreign support when he took power in January and who faces a crucial legislative vote next March.

Commentators in Kiev said the vote was more a reflection on Yushchenko's battered image than on Yekhanurov himself, a technocrat who was welcomed across Ukraine's political spectrum when named acting premier in the wake of Tymoshenko's firing on September 8.

"Viktor Yushchenko has submitted the candidature of Yury Yekhanurov for the post of prime minister," the presidential press service said in the statement published on the internet.

Political party leaders emerging from talks with the Ukrainian leader late Wednesday predicted that parliament would confirm Yekhanurov the second time around.

"I think that Yury Ivanovich will get the votes tomorrow," the Interfax news agency quoted Valery Pustovoitenko, leader of the NDP faction, as telling reporters. "He'll get 235-237 votes."

The Ukrainian president's sacking of Tymoshenko shattered the "orange revolution" dream team less than a year after it assumed power, in a bid to quash a deepening corruption scandal and furious cabinet infighting.

Yushchenko came to power in late January with widespread support after leading mass peaceful demonstrations against a fraudulent election and a graft-riddled former regime.

However his popularity has slipped against the background of a poor economic performance during Tymoshenko's watch -- economic growth has slowed to its lowest rate since 1999 -- and furious cabinet rivalries.

These battles spilled into the open in early September, when Yushchenko's chief of staff resigned and accused several close presidential aides of corruption.

On Tuesday, the general prosecutor said his office had opened five criminal cases into the allegations and a decision on whether to press formal charges will be made at the end of investigations that could last up to two months.

The political turmoil sparked by the corruption allegations and Tymoshenko's firing has cast doubt on whether Yushchenko will be able to make honour his campaign pledges to push through reforms and drive the ex-Soviet nation towards membership in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ( NATO).

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