Ukraine’s government, PM resign: presidency
KIEV: Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Monday accepted the resignation of his close ally Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and the entire government, the presidency said.
The surprise move comes as a new parliament prepares to meet after October 28 legislative elections which raised new concerns about democratic standards under Yanukovych.
The ministers will remain in their posts until a new government is formed, the presidency said in a statement.
“President Viktor Yanukovych accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, satisfying the demand of the latter,” the statement added.
It noted that according to Ukranian law, whenever the prime minister resigns the entire government must do so alongside the government chief.
The presidency explained the mass resignation by saying that Azarov had decided to take up a parliamentary seat rather than staying on as prime minister.
Under Ukrainian law, deputies have to cease their former work in order to take up their seats in the parliament.
Along with Azarov a number of other ministers were elected to parliament including Deputy Prime Minister Sergiy Tigipko and Economy Minister Petro Poroshenko.
The ruling Regions Party appears to have retained control of the Verkhovna Rada with the help of independents despite a strong challenge from the opposition parties of boxer Vitali Klitschko and imprisoned ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko.
A Russian-speaking bureaucrat mocked by many in Ukraine for his dry and humourless image, Azarov took office in 2010 shortly after Yanukovych defeated Tymoshenko in fiercely contested presidential elections.
Azarov has always been seen as a close ally of Yanukovych but some analysts believe his powerbase has been undermined by the recent rise of a “Family” of close acquaintances of the president into top positions.
According to Regions Party parliament faction chief Olexander Efremov, all the ministers who have seats in the Rada will take them and thus resign, the Interfax news agency reported.
Possible successors to Azarov could include First Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Khoroshkovsky and National Bank chief Sergiy Arbuzov, the latter seen as a key member of the “Family” of Yanukovych allies.
“It is possible that this radical resignation makes sense, it is better to dissolve the government and appoint another one,” said Kostyantyn Bondarenko, head of the Ukrainian Politics Institute.
He said that resignation made sense for Azarov who was approaching the pension age of 65 and would have had to work on replacing a string of ministers had he stayed in power.
Ukrainian parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn said that a decision on the composition of the new government could only be taken once parliament meets for its first session later this month.