Yushchenko hurries allies into power
Ukraine\'s President Viktor Yushchenko on Monday reaffirmed his backing for a western-leaning coalition government led by his Orange Revolution ally Yulia Tymoshenko, after results from a snap parliamentary poll were officially declared.
In a statement issued late on Monday, after meeting Ms Tymoshenko and political allies from his Our Ukraine party, Mr Yushchenko urged them to form a new government swiftly.
\"There is no time for delays,\" the president said, pointing to the need to pass a budget for next year and raise living standards for citizens toiling with high inflation.
With official election results announced, the two parties adopted a coalition agreement which they intend to sign at the first session of the new parliament.
After the surprisingly strong result for her BYuT bloc, Ms Tymoshenko stood out as the likely next prime minister, but political insiders warned of hurdles ahead.
Mr Yushchenko dissolved parliament this spring in a bid to punish what he claimed was political corruption and prevent the usurpation of power by the governing coalition of Viktor Yanukovich, the outgoing, Moscow-friendly premier.
Ms Tymoshenko\'s strong showing helped secure a bitter-sweet victory for Mr Yushchenko. A key backer of his 2004 presidential candidacy, she was fired as prime minister in 2005 after falling out with him, and she is expected to challenge for the presidency in 2009.
Reunited for now, the Orange Revolution allies mustered a razor-thin majority in parliament, just enough to oust Mr Yanukovich\'s coalition. But their victory is not expected to ease the political paralysis that has plagued Kiev\'s politics.
Insiders questioned whether Our Ukraine would support Ms Tymoshenko\'s candidacy unanimously. The stability of a Tymoshenko-led coalition, backed by a narrow three-seat majority, is also doubtful.
Mr Yushchenko has called for a power-sharing pact with Mr Yanukovich\'s Regions party, which leads a formidable opposition. Ms Tymoshenko has courted Mr Yanukovich, offering low-level positions in government and oversight committees in parliament, but a deal has yet to be struck.
Members of the president\'s bloc have also called for the coalition to be strengthened by bringing in a third partner, the bloc of the former speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn. Talks have so far been fruitless. A report by the Kiev-based investment bank Dragon Capital commented: \"Given their fragile majority and the still unclear position of the Lytvyn bloc, BYuT and Our Ukraine will have to reach a compromise with Regions not to risk another early election.\"
The return of Ms Tymoshenko is expected to strain relations with Moscow, which relies on Ukraine\'s vast pipelines to supply Europe with oil and natural gas. She has pledged to clean up what she describes as shadowy dealings in the gas trade between Ukraine, Russia and central Asian countries.