Ukraine's Yanukovich Narrows Down Search For PM

KIEV, Ukraine -- The parliamentary party of Ukrainian President elect Viktor Yanukovich has narrowed down the search for a new prime minister to three candidates, two from outside its ranks, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Yanukovych narrows PM search to Tigipko (L), Yatsenyuk (C) and Azarov (R).

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Yanukovich's Regions Party is attempting to form a new coalition in parliament which would be able to oust current Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko; the loser in a presidential election this month.

The post of prime minister will be key to uniting coalition parties under the Regions Party. Tymoshenko's ouster may usher in a stable government that will focus on Ukraine's economic woes and bring back International Monetary Fund lending.

The source said businessman Sergey Tigipko and former Foreign Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, neither from the Regions Party, as well as former Finance Minister Mykola Azarov were named as the most likely candidates by Yanukovich in an interview with television stations to be aired later on Sunday. "Today, there are three figures; Tigipko, Yatsenyuk and Azarov," the source said.

Tigipko, 50, came a surprise third in a first round of the presidential election and Tymoshenko and Yanukovich both tried to woo him to their side in the run up to the final round of voting. He declined to support either.

Yatsenyuk is a 35-year-old who has already held a host of positions including chairman of the central bank and speaker of parliament.

Azarov, 63, is an old stalwart of Yanukovich and has helped steer Ukraine's economy under Yanukovich's premierships in 2002-2004 and 2006-2007 as his finance minister. He was seen as a safe pair of hands who managed the state's finances well.

FINDING A COALITION

News of the three candidates came a day after Tymoshenko dropped her legal case against the election result, saying the court could not be trusted to give a fair verdict.

Tymoshenko still claims Yanukovich did not win the election legitimately, accusing his supporters of vote-rigging, even though international observers gave the election the all clear and as Western governments congratulated the president-elect.

Analysts say Tymoshenko will now focus on the fight against Yanukovich in parliament. If his supporters succeed in building a coalition, they could dismiss Tymoshenko through a vote of no confidence, paving the way for a new government.

If not, Yanukovich may be forced into calling a snap parliamentary election, an option investors fear because it would prolong instability in the country.

Tymoshenko's about-turn on Saturday left the way clear for Yanukovich to be inaugurated as president on February 25.

A Regions Party official said on Sunday the presidents of several countries including Bulgaria, Turkey, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania have confirmed they would attend the ceremony, as well as the EU foreign affairs and security chief, Catherine Ashton.

Source: MSNBC

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