Viktor Yanukovych To Appoint New Prime Minister of Ukraine

Ukrainian lawmakers formed a new coalition around new President Viktor Yanukovych, and allowed him to consolidate power by quickly approving his choice for prime minister.

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, The Associated Press reported.

The 62-year-old Russian-born Azarov held the posts of finance minister and first deputy prime minister in Yanukovich's premierships from 2002-2005 and 2006-2007.

He was seen as a safe pair of hands when managing the state's finances during the 2004 political upheaval that overturned a flawed presidential election, when confidence in the hryvnia national currency was severely shaken.

He has a reputation as a cautious conservative rather than a reformer and few analysts expect him to undertake major reforms at his own initiative.

Still, his record as a past custodian of the state coffers will help him as steward of an embattled economy that has been propped up by a $16.4 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) bail-out programme, Reuters.

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