Ukrainian Parliament Poised to Vote on New Government

  • Prime Minister Yatsenyuk said Sunday that he'd step down
  • Parliament Speaker Hroisman nominated to take charge

Ukraine’s parliament is meeting to vote on a new government that can restart billions of dollars in foreign aid and jump-start stalled reforms after the former Soviet republic’s two biggest parties reached an agreement over cabinet positions.

Lawmakers are set to vote Thursday on the resignation of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and the appointment in his place of Volodymyr Hroisman, the legislature’s speaker and an ally of President Petro Poroshenko. After weeks of talks, the parties of Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk will form a slimmed-down coalition backing Hroisman.

Swept to power in 2014 after a street revolution demanding Ukraine be remade as a European-style democracy, the country’s leaders have come under fire from voters and foreign donors for failing to tackle corruption. Stalled reforms prompted the departure of key officials from the administration and a halt in disbursements from a $17.5 billion International Monetary Fund bailout. While the economy has begun to recover from an 18-month recession, the hryvnia has lost 5.5 percent against the dollar this year.

Hroisman has been parliament speaker since November 2014, serving earlier as a deputy premier under Yatsenyuk. His appointment, ahead of candidates such as Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, would consolidate Poroshenko’s grip on power. He’s vowed to nurture the economy’s nascent recovery and restart IMF cooperation.

Poroshenkso said Sunday that $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees would be approved once the new cabinet is in place. More aid would follow, including 600 million euros ($680 million) from the European Union and $1.7 billion from the IMF, he said.

Ex-Slovak Finance Minister Ivan Miklos has rejected an offer to replace Jaresko, an investor favorite after she oversaw last year’s $15 billion debt restructuring. Oleksandr Danylyuk, deputy chief of Poroshenko’s staff, will be nominated instead for the finance minister’s role, according to Yuriy Lutsenko, the head of Poroshenko’s party.

Other candidates for government positions include ex-central bank Governor Stepan Kubiv, who’s in line to become first deputy prime minister and economy minister, and Ihor Nasalyk, who’s been put forward for energy minister. The interior and justice ministers will probably retain their posts. As presidential appointees, the defense and foreign ministers will also keep theirs.

Yatsenyuk emerged to lead Ukraine after the nation’s second popular uprising in 10 years ousted Kremlin-backed President Viktor Yanukovych. His team promised European levels of transparency after decades of misrule. Poroshenko first urged Yatsenyuk to step down Feb. 16, saying a cabinet shakeup would boost governance and ease the passage of reforms.

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