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Update: Former finance minister nominated as Ukraine prime minister

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March 11, 2010, 11:49 a.m. | Politics — by Reuters

Mykola Azarov, a Ukrainian former finance minister and close ally of President Viktor Yanukovych, has been nominated to be prime minister.

Reuters

Mykola Azarov, a Ukrainian former finance minister and close ally of President Viktor Yanukovych, has been nominated to be prime minister, a Regions Party deputy said on Mar. 11. Parliament speaker Volodymyr Litvyn announced to the assembly that a new alliance of 235 deputies had been formed, as Yanukovych's Regions Party moved to replace the cabinet of Yulia Tymoshenko who was ousted in a no-confidence vote last week.

"The coalition has been formed on the basis of an agreement signed by heads of the factions of the Regions Party, the Communist Party, the Litvyn bloc, the People's Party," Litvyn said.

In all, 235 deputies from the 450-member parliament had signed the coalition agreement, he said.

Regions Party deputy Mykhailo Chechetov said the new coalition had met and chosen Azarov, 62, as prime minister and a close aide of Yanukovych said he had already signed the nomination which would be voted on later by parliament.

Yanukovych appeared to moving quickly to consolidate power with political stability being key to tackling a grave economic crisis.

Formation of a new coalition, following Yanukovych's victory over Tymoshenko in a Feb. 7 presidential run-off, had been necessary to avoid snap elections and to tackle a deep economic crisis.

The ex-Soviet republic, battered by the economic downturn, needs a new government to adopt a delayed 2010 budget and restart talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a suspended $16.4 billion bail-out package.

Tymoshenko's departure as prime minister marks the end of five years of rule by the leadership which emerged from the 2004 pro-Western "Orange Revolution".

Yanukovych's Regions Party said it expected a full government line-up to emerge on Thursday, likely headed by the Russian-born Mykola Azarov.

Azarov is seen as a safe pair of hands though no radical reformer. But he would give Yanukovych a reliable ruling partner after the infighting between Tymoshenko and former President Viktor Yushchenko.

Yanukovych's narrow victory tilted the country of 46 million people -- split between a Russian-leaning south and east and a Western-friendly west and centre -- back towards Russia after years of fractious 'Orange' rule.
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