Ukrainian lawmakers have formed a new coalition around the party of the nation's new president, allowing him to quickly name a loyal prime minister and consolidate power.
The election of Mykola Azarov as premier — after he served as Yanukovych's campaign strategist in this year's presidential elections — ends the long-running rivalry between Ukraine's head of state and head of government.
Azarov leads the new majority coalition "Reforms and Order," which includes Yanukovych's Party of Regions, the Communists and the party led by parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, formerly allied with the pro-Western "Orange" coalition.
Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was ousted March 3 in a no-confidence vote after her Orange coalition fell.
She and former President Viktor Yushchenko, who together led the Orange Revolution protests that brought Yushchenko to power in 2004, have said they will remain in opposition against Azarov's government.
Before helping to run Yanukovych's presidential campaign, Azarov was first deputy prime minister when Yanukovych held the premiership between 2006 and 2007. He is seen as a staunch supporter of both Yanukovych and his Kremlin-friendly policies.
On Thursday, he pledged to root out corruption and tackle the economic turmoil that has plagued Ukraine during the political wrangling of the past few years.
"I don't promise an easy life for my ministers," Azarov said after his premiership was approved.
Yanukovych also introduced his ministerial candidates for defense and foreign affairs, as well as for the head of the security service.
Before forming the new governing coalition, Yanukovych signed a law allowing for individual deputies to break from their parliamentary factions. The coalition controls 235 of the 450 chamber seats, including more than a dozen defectors from Tymoshenko's and Yushchenko's factions.
Opponents have said the law violates the constitution, which only allows factions to join coalitions in parliament.
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