Tymoshenko fails in bid for Ukraine premiership

KIEV (Reuters) – Yulia Tymoshenko, a leading force in Ukraine’s 2004 “Orange Revolution”, narrowly failed to win parliament’s backing to restore her as prime minister on Tuesday and accused her rivals of cheating.

Pro-Western Tymoshenko, trying to regain the job from which she was sacked in 2005, vowed to press her nomination on the strength of a tiny majority won in a September election intended to end three years of political turmoil. Opponents said she faced “shame and mockery” if she persisted.

“Cheating like we saw today is only possible for a very short period of time,” Tymoshenko said outside the chamber after falling one vote short of the 226 required in the 450-seat assembly.

“Our coalition is united. There can be no doubt we will form a government and win the vote. We will vote with another procedure and our government will win approval.”

Her colleagues in the coalition — made up of her bloc and President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party — agreed.

“Whatever the circumstances, I am sure the president will submit Yulia Tymoshenko’s candidature again and it will be approved within days,” said Vyacheslav Kyrylenko of Our Ukraine.

Politicians, including the president, who had proposed returning Tymoshenko to her job, spent most of the rest of the day consulting on what to do next.

Investors took the political twist in their stride.

Yields in Ukraine’s benchmark sovereign bond rose 6.6 basis points. But credit default swaps, used to insure against restructuring or default, were broadly steady and Ukraine’s tiny stock market was virtually unchanged.

NEW PARLIAMENT SITTING

Parliament speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk closed the session by saying the president would again submit his nominee — without mentioning Tymoshenko. A new sitting was planned for Wednesday.

Yatsenyuk, an ally of the president, won election to his post last week with 227 votes, giving heart to the coalition’s two parties that their coalition was viable.

Tymoshenko’s failed bid stirred confusion and anger. Deputies at one point scuffled and tossed glasses of water at each other.

The Regions Party of outgoing Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, the president’s arch rival, denied any suggestion of cheating and dismissed the “orange” team as “unstable”. Yanukovich steers a course closer to Russia.

The party, the largest in the chamber, backs a “broad coalition” to end confrontation in the country of 47 million.

“A coalition built on an advantage of two votes is no coalition,” said Regions deputy Anna Herman. “Shame and mockery will be brought upon them every day if they fail to understand that we need a broad coalition in parliament.”

Tymoshenko’s allies had complained of irregularities in counting the votes, but a new vote to reconsider her nomination also fell short. She and Yushchenko appeared distraught.

“Orange” members said the SBU security service had been asked to investigate the voting system. A 150-strong petition called for ballot papers or a show of hands in any new vote.

Katya Malofeeva of Renaissance Capital, said the outcome could leave Ukraine without a government for some time.

“She would have to give up her ambitions for all the economic positions in government,” she said “We may not see a new government by the end of this year, beginning of next.”

Tymoshenko rallied protests that brought Yushchenko to power in 2004 and was named premier. But the two fell out and she was sacked. The two reconciled during the election campaign in September.

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