Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has urged parliament to approve a new government next week that could end a raging political crisis and unlock crucial Western aid.
The economically-depressed and conflict-riven country has been roiled by weeks of uncertainty over its future and a sharp drop in the popularity of both Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk.
Poroshenko attempted to resolve the political strains by asking Yatseniuk to step down on February 16 due to his seeming failure to tackle government graft.
Yatseniuk refused and that same day survived a no-confidence vote in parliament thanks to support from his own party and lawmakers that Ukrainian media have linked to three powerful tycoons who enjoy great political sway.
But two junior members of the pro-Western coalition that formed in the wake of October 2014 parliamentary elections broke ranks with the government after that vote.
The conflict between Ukraine’s two main leaders and doubts about the government’s future saw International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde note that she could not see a way that lending to Kiev could continue under current circumstances.
Poroshenko told reporters in the eastern city of Kharkiv yesterday that he was ready “to support any candidate for prime minister submitted by the (parliamentary) coalition”.
“I stress that it is in Ukraine’s interests to see the government confirmed next Tuesday.”
But Ukrainian law stipulates that parliament cannot hold two votes of no confidence in the government in the same session and can only pick the prime minister’s replacement after the serving one resigns – something Yatseniuk has not done.
The premier himself said yesterday that he hoped “the political crisis can be resolved as soon as possible”.
“I am waiting for further decisions to be made both by the parliamentary coalition and – most importantly – the president’s party and the president himself.”
Poroshenko controls parliament’s largest faction.
The one headed by Yatseniuk closely trails in second and has previously voted in line with the president’s group.
Yatseniuk’s party has until now supported his position but has also indicated that it was willing to engage in political talks.
Poroshenko: it is in Ukraine’s interests to see the government confirmed next Tuesday.