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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 September 2005, 18:43 GMT 19:43 UK
Ukraine PM rebuff deepens crisis
Yuri Yekhanurov (right) and President Viktor Yushchenko
President Yushchenko could propose Mr Yekhanurov again
Ukraine's parliament has dealt a new blow to President Viktor Yushchenko 12 days after he sacked his government, by rejecting his choice of prime minister.

Yuri Yekhanurov was three votes short of the 226 needed for approval.

Some MPs deserted Mr Yushchenko after he sacked Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, accusing her of corruption.

Correspondents say few MPs have strong objections to Mr Yekhanurov, but many witheld their votes to demonstrate a lack of confidence in Mr Yushchenko.

They intentionally created a crisis to show that it is impossible to work without Yulia
Yuri Karmazin, pro-Yushchenko MP
"They didn't vote against Yekhanurov, they voted... against Yushchenko," said political analyst Volodymyr Malinkovich, quoted by the AFP news agency.

Yuri Karmazin, a member of Mr Yushchenko's Our Ukraine faction, said: "They intentionally created a crisis to show that it was possible to work with Yulia, and without Yulia it's impossible."

Ms Tymoshenko's supporters are furious with Mr Yushchenko for sacking her while refusing to believe allegations of corruption against her main rival, Petro Poroshenko, the head of the national security council.

Mr Yushchenko also failed to win the support of his former rival for the presidency, Viktor Yanukovych.

The two men met on Monday for the first time since last year's Orange Revolution, but only three out of 52 deputies from Mr Yanukovych's Ukrainian Regions party voted for Mr Yekhanurov.

More than 100 MPs either abstained or did not take part in the vote at all.

Election race on

Before the vote, Mr Yushchenko warned of a "cynical plot to destroy" his administration.

Petro Poroshenko and Yulia Tymoshenko
Mr Poroshenko and Ms Tymoshenko were said to be constantly feuding
He criticised Ms Tymoshenko for "inept" policy, which he blamed for a slowdown in Ukraine's economic growth.

"If we want to stabilise matters quickly and fully in Ukraine, we need to approve my candidate, Yekhanurov," he said.

Agencies and local media reported that three or four of Mr Yushchenko's supporters were absent from parliament when the vote was held - enough to seal his defeat.

Mr Yushchenko has the right to propose Mr Yekhanurov to parliament again, and an aide suggested he would do this in several days.

Ms Tymoshenko has sworn to regain the premiership by winning parliamentary elections in March.

Her political umbrella group, the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, has been strengthened by a number of defections from Mr Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc, including the Party of Reforms and Order, led by the economist Viktor Pynzenyk.

Allies and rivals

Mr Yushchenko and Ms Tymoshenko were political allies in last year's Orange Revolution, battling to ensure a re-run of the rigged presidential election.

After Mr Yushchenko finally became president, he disappointed Mr Poroshenko by making Ms Tymoshenko prime minister. After that, the two were constantly at loggerheads.

When, earlier this month, key figures began to resign from Mr Yushchenko's team - making allegations of corruption against Mr Poroshenko and others - Mr Yushchenko responded by sacking the entire government.

Ms Tymoshenko and her supporters were the main losers, however, with most other ministers staying on to work in Mr Yekhanurov's acting government.

Mr Yekhanurov said on Tuesday he would retain two-thirds of the ministers in the old government, if confirmed as prime minister.

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun said on Tuesday that investigators had opened five criminal cases against officials from the security council.


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