Tymoshenko May Fall Short In PM Quest - Official

LONDON, UK -- Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, seeking to return to power as prime minister in Ukraine, may have too little support in parliament to win the job, a top Ukrainian official said on Tuesday.

Yulia Tymoshenko

Tymoshenko, estranged ally of President Viktor Yushchenko, says she is entitled to be premier again as her bloc finished first of three liberal groups in March's parliamentary election.

Rival parties are now negotiating to form a coalition government, but Yushchenko has proved reluctant to put Tymoshenko back in the job from which he fired her last year.

Some of the president's allies want a coalition deal with the Regions party, led by Viktor Yanukovich, the Revolution's main loser in 2004.

Oleh Rybachuk, presidential chief of staff, said Tymoshenko had a good chance of clinching a coalition deal but might have too few votes to become premier, he said.

"My feeling is that she might not get those votes," he told a seminar organised by the Policy Exchange think tank in London. "If (the candidate) is Yulia, I don't want to predict, but there are high chances she will not get enough votes."

Outgoing Prime Minister Yuri Yekhanurov, the president's longstanding ally who led his Our Ukraine party in the election, restated his preference for a broad coalition.

That would embrace the Regions party, first in the poll but still short of a majority to govern on its own. It is supported mainly in Russian-speaking eastern and southern regions.

"I do not want them to be in opposition to the president," Yekhanurov told Ukraine's Radio Era, referring to the Regions Party. "The task is to consolidate Ukrainians, including those 8 million citizens who voted for the Regions Party."

The new parliament, empowered under new constitutional provisions to name the prime minister, holds its first sitting on Thursday and has about two months to form a government. Yushchenko expects a government early next month.

The coalition of parties behind the "Orange Revolution" have agreed in principle to a new coalition, but talks on a formal agreement appear stalled. Our Ukraine refuses to sign any deal that would make Tymoshenko premier.

Source: Reuters