From: Reuters
Published December 12, 2007 07:57 AM

Ukraine president presses for Tymoshenko as PM

By Yuri Kulikov

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's parliament remained deadlocked on Wednesday as the pro-Western president made a second attempt to restore Yulia Tymoshenko as prime minister.

Tymoshenko stood alongside President Viktor Yushchenko in the 2004 "Orange Revolution," but was sacked in 2005 seven months after being named prime minister.

She won 225 votes in the 450-seat assembly on Tuesday, one short of the majority required to become prime minister, and accused rivals of tampering with the electronic voting system.

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The outcome exposed the fragile nature of a 227-member coalition of two parties to emerge from a September election - Tymoshenko's bloc and Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party.

Yushchenko submitted her name to the chamber a second time. But Tymoshenko's rivals blocked a morning sitting, saying they first wanted to elect senior parliamentary officials.

Outgoing Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, the president's rival in the 2004 upheaval, said the vote showed an "orange" coalition had no long-term future. He repeated his call for a "broad coalition" with some of the president's supporters.

"Voters must at last get an answer on whether the coalition of 227 can take responsibility for the country. Let's make it clear, yes or no," he said in a statement on his Web site.

Parliament's Conciliation Council, which sets the agenda, was scheduled to sit and Tymoshenko's "orange" allies hoped a session would get under way later in the afternoon.

TAMPERING

Tymoshenko said all 227 coalition members had backed her on Tuesday, but tampering prevented two from registering their votes. But the SBU security service, summoned to investigate, said checks revealed no interference in the system.

Oleksander Turchinov, one of Tymoshenko's most trusted lieutenants, told reporters any new vote should be taken by a show of hands.

"The speaker would call on each member to raise his hand and say publicly whether he is for or against," Turchinov said.

Tymoshenko roused crowds in central Kiev in 2004 by denouncing a rigged election, eventually overturned by a court ruling after Yanukovich was initially declared the winner.

Named prime minister days after Yushchenko's inauguration, she spooked investors in office by calling for a major review of privatizations and by trying to influence markets. The two reconciled for the September election that had been intended to end three years of political turmoil.

Analysts were divided on whether Tymoshenko's setback was rooted in a betrayal by some coalition members said to be wary of her return to power, or a genuine technical problem.

Some said the events bore out skeptics' predictions that members of Our Ukraine considered Tymoshenko an unpredictable populist and would opt for a "broad coalition."

(Editing by Keith Weir)

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