Ukraine Assembly Fails Again To Oust Cbank Head

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's parliament failed again to oust Central Bank Chairman Volodymyr Stelmakh on Monday, passing a resolution annulling his tenure that was dismissed by the president's office as "unconstitutional".

Volodymyr Stelmakh

This was the third attempt by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's faction in parliament to persuade President Viktor Yushchenko to sack the veteran chairman, blaming him for a fall in the hryvnia currency and the state of banks' refinancing.

The two former allies have fought constantly on virtually all issues for months, delaying policy making just as the global financial crisis grips the ex-Soviet state.

Under the constitution, only the president can initiate the dismissal of the central bank chief, which must then be approved by parliament. Although lukewarm towards the central bank, Yushchenko has refused to sack Stelmakh.

"This decision is illegal and unconstitutional," presidential spokeswoman Larysa Mudrak said by telephone.

The central bank's top economic adviser, Valery Lytvytsky, said Stelmakh would continue in his job after returning from holiday. He was not able to say when that would be.

"He knows that he is the legal head of the central bank and he will continue work after his holiday," Lytvytsky said by telephone.

A total of 227 members -- one more than the minimum needed -- approved the resolution. Parliament passed a no confidence vote in Stelmakh on Dec. 26 and again asked the president to dismiss him two weeks ago.

By voting to rescind the 2004 appointment, Tymoshenko's bloc hoped to find another mechanism of getting rid of Stelmakh.

Parliament also passed a resolution naming Yushchenko solely responsible for Ukraine's financial woes. Tymoshenko has called for his resignation in December.

Lytvytsky said the central bank was currently under the control of First Deputy Chairman Anatoly Shapovalov.

"The market is not going to be overjoyed by this latest twist in the story, but we hope that it will remain calm thanks to our intervention aimed at maintaining the positive trend (of the hryvnia's rate)," Lytvytsky said.

The hryvnia traded at 8.1 to the dollar, slightly weaker than last week when it stood at a touch stronger than 8/$.

Dealers said the central bank had communicated its policy well in January with almost daily interventions that have injected liquidity and helped strengthen the hryvnia from December historic lows of 9.5-10/$.

But parliament's very moves made them nervous.

"If management of the central bank changes, then there will be a question -- how will the bank behave?" said one dealer.

Source: Guardian UK

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