Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovich, defeated in the 2004 "Orange Revolution," is set to be voted in as prime minister today after signing a commitment yesterday not to reverse the country's pro-Western policies.
President Viktor Yushchenko, architect of the campaign that overturned the old order in Ukraine, reluctantly chose "co-habitation" with the Moscow-leaning Yanukovich in the early hours of yesterday to end four months of political deadlock.
Parliament postponed a vote scheduled later yesterday to today, to approve Yanukovich's nomination and cement a "grand coalition" uniting the president's Our Ukraine Party with Yanukovich's Regions group and smaller allies.
Before that, Yanukovich and Yushchenko formally signed a declaration of principles on the formation of a coalition government that the Ukrainian president said would safeguard the ideals of the reform.
But a leading figure in the pro-Western reform campaign said the agreement letting Yanukovich head the government betrayed those ideals.
"I call this document a political capitulation of the Orange camp," said Yulia Tymoshenko, an estranged ally of the president who is now in opposition.
The document included a commitment to continue Ukraine's drive toward NATO and EU membership and ensure the central bank and courts are independent from political interference.
"With this document, Ukraine's politicians are confirming that the current foreign and domestic policies are irreversible," Yushchenko said at the start of a signing ceremony in the presidential administration.
The new cabinet will be dominated by Yanukovich's supporters but with ministerial posts for the Yushchenko camp in proportion to the number of seats it controls in parliament, said Yanukovich aide Taras Chornovil.
"Our Ukraine will be offered some fairly key posts…. That issue has already been agreed," he said.
Yanukovich, who favors closer ties with traditional ally Russia, was expected to announce his cabinet soon.
His Regions party has 186 seats in the 450-seat parliament. Our Ukraine has 86. The Communists and Socialists Yanukovich allies have 51 seats between them.
Markets will hope for pragmatic economic policies under Yanukovich, who served as prime minister before the 2004 "Orange Revolution." Mykola Azarov, a technocrat who oversaw economic and financial policy before 2004, could return to government.
Yushchenko's only other alternative to naming Yanukovich had been to dissolve parliament, prolong the crisis and risk new elections that could have destroyed him politically.
(China Daily August 4, 2006)