From: Reuters
Published December 11, 2007 08:15 AM

Tymoshenko fails in bid for Ukraine premiership

By Ron Popeski

KIEV (Reuters) - Yulia Tymoshenko, leading force in Ukraine's 2004 "Orange Revolution," failed to win backing from parliament to restore her as prime minister on Tuesday, plunging the ex-Soviet state into new political uncertainty.

Tymoshenko was backed by 225 votes, one short of a majority in the 450-seat assembly. Her allies complained of technical problems and speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk called a new vote on returning the motion on her nomination.

That, however, also failed to carry and parliament went into recess in disarray.

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Tymoshenko, sporting her trademark peasant braid, and President Viktor Yushchenko, who had proposed her, both appeared distraught at the outcome.

Tymoshenko, 47, was formally put forward for the job after two orange parties won enough seats in a September election to form a wafer-thin coalition majority.

That election was called to end three years up political upheaval unleashed by the "Orange Revolution" which sharply divided the country of 47 million.

The two "orange" parties in the coalition -- the Tymoshenko bloc and the president's Our Ukraine party -- can normally command 227 votes. Tymoshenko's allies immediately sought redress and a new vote.

"The conciliation council (of parliament) will meet and find a way out of this situation," said Andriy Shevchenko, one of her lieutenants. "We have 227 votes and everyone knows that."

But the Regions Party of the president's arch rival, Viktor Yanukovich, said the vote showed the "orange" team was unstable. It renewed calls for a "broad coalition" in which its members would join forces with the president's allies.

"A coalition built on an advantage of two votes is no coalition," said Anna Herman, senior member of the largest group in parliament, the Regions Party.

"Shame and mockery will be brought upon them every day if they fail to understand that we need a broad coalition in parliament."

NO GOVERNMENT

Katya Malofeeva of Renaissance Capital, said the outcome could leave Ukraine without a government for some time.

"I actually expected this to happen, full support was very doubtful," she said.

"It's definitely a strong sign that she needs to negotiate further. She would have to give up her ambitions for all the economic positions in government ... We may not see a new government by the end of this year, beginning of next."

Tymoshenko rallied protests that catapulted Yushchenko to power in 2004 and was named premier within days. But the two fell out after Tymoshenko frightened investors with attempts to intervene in markets and review privatizations.

The personal and political dispute culminated within eight months in Tymoshenko's dismissal as prime minister.

Yushchenko and Tymoshenko had been reconciled during the campaign, which pitted their pro-Western policies against those of Yanukovich, who steers a course closer to Russia.

Tymoshenko had told parliament before the vote that she would fight corruption and unite a country divided between a nationalist west and Russian-speaking eastern regions that identify more closely with Russia.

"When the national team is playing we must all cheer in the same way," Tymoshenko told the assembly.

"I want a national team to be born so that we are able to turn Ukraine into a strong European state...The main task of our team, our government, must be the introduction of clear, professional changes in every sphere of our lives."

That meant conducting an inventory of corrupt practices 16 years after independence and measures to close the "dirty pits" behind them.

If her government were approved, she said, the government would meet from Wednesday to adopt an approve the 2008 budget by the end of the year.

She had been more reserved in the weeks since the election, but has promised to uphold the liberal, pro-Western ideals of the 2004 revolution.

(Edited by Ralph Boulton)

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