Ukraine assembly sets Tuesday vote on PM
KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's parliament is to vote next Tuesday on returning Yulia Tymoshenko to her old job of prime minister and appointing a cabinet, the assembly's speaker said on Friday.
"Whatever the circumstances, a vote will take place on Tuesday on the candidature for prime minister of Ukraine and on the make-up of the government," speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk told the chamber. He then declared parliament closed until Tuesday.
Tymoshenko was President Viktor Yushchenko's ally during the 2004 pro-Western "Orange Revolution" mass protests that swept him to power. But after a turbulent eight-month mandate as prime minister, she was sacked by the president.
The two were reconciled before September's parliamentary election in which two parties associated with the "orange" protests won a tiny majority.
The president submitted her nomination to parliament on Thursday despite their history of uneasy relations.
The "orange" coalition, made of her bloc and the president's Our Ukraine party, holds 227 seats, only one more than needed to secure election in the 450-member legislature.
But the election this week to the speaker's chair of Yatsenyuk, an ally of the president, gave heart to "orange" parties that their majority, however slender, was viable.
And the opposition, led by outgoing Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich's Regions Party, has indicated that it was prepared to accept Tymoshenko as prime minister if she won approval.
"I don't care what color the coalition is. What matters is what this coalition will do," Rinat Akhmetov, a senior Regions Party official and Ukraine's wealthiest business magnate, told reporters late on Thursday.
"If it is aimed at reforms and economic growth, may God grant them good health."
Tymoshenko, with her peasant braid and designer outfits, issued calls to action at Yushchenko's side during the 2004 protests.
In office, Tymoshenko sniped constantly at the president and her government was split into two camps. Relations worsened with Russia and she spooked investors with calls for a sweeping review of "dubious" privatizations.
But her popularity has proved enduring as her bloc scored well in the September election to entrench itself as the country's largest "orange" group.
(Writing by Sabina Zawadzki and Ron Popeski; Editing by Stephen Weeks)