Kiev: Ukraine’s parliament today appointed pro-Western speaker Volodymyr Groysman as Prime Minister in a bid to end months of political gridlock and unlock vital aid to the war torn-state.
Lawmakers voted by 257 to 50 to approve the resignation of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk — condemned by President Petro Poroshenko for losing the public’s trust — and select Groysman in the first cabinet overhaul since Ukraine’s 2014 pro-EU revolt.
“I understand my responsiblities,” the 38-year-old Groysman told deputies shortly before the vote.
He vowed to “ensure the permanence of our course toward European integration” and oversee a government “that does not tolerate corruption”.
Poroshenko himself called Groysman, a lawyer by training, “a politician from a new generation”. “What do I expect from the new government? The same thing our society does,” the President said while presenting his candidate.
“The start of economic growth and an improvement in people’s well-being. We have moved from a survival strategy, which was fully justified in 2014-15, to a strategy of accelerated growth.”
The fast-rising new premier is a Poroshenko protege who only two years ago served as mayor of the small western Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia and remained a relative unknown.
He moved to Kiev and joined the government after the 2014 ouster of Ukraine’s Moscow-backed leadership and the country’s decision to strike a landmark EU trade and political association pact, a shift out of Russia’s orbit. Groysman was elected to parliament on Poroshenko’s party ticket in October 2014 and became speaker the following month.
He is seen as a coalition builder who has gained stature by keeping the notoriously rowdy parliament — prone to ugly brawls — in relative peace.
He has also pronounced himself strongly committed to the belt-tightening measures prescribed by the International Monetary Fund when it approved a USD 17.5-billion rescue package for Ukraine in March 2014.
But some economists worry that the mild-mannered Groysman may lack the toughness needed to stand up to a handful of tycoons who have dominated Ukrainian politics and made the former Soviet republic a breeding ground for graft.
The new government may draw further concern of investors because it will not feature the respected US-born Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko or two other foreign technocrats Poroshenko enlisted in December 2014 to help stem Ukraine’s economic nosedive. (AFP)