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Through accord, Ukraine gets new prime minister

MOSCOW -- President Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine won parliamentary backing yesterday for his choice as prime minister on a second try by reaching a political accord with the man he once accused of trying to steal the presidency from him.

Yesterday's vote for Yuriy Yekhanurov, 57, a regional governor and Yushchenko loyalist, followed balloting Tuesday in which the nominee had fallen three votes short.

''It's time to bury the war hatchet and to forget where it lies," Yushchenko said. The unlikely alliance was foisted on the president when he dismissed the former prime minister, his onetime close ally, Yulia Tymoshenko, earlier this month but did not initially have enough support to replace her.

Before yesterday's vote, Yushchenko signed an agreement with the Party of the Regions, led by Viktor Yanukovych, who was Yushchenko's opponent in the battle for the presidency last year. Yanukovych first defeated Yushchenko in balloting that was widely condemned as fraudulent. The vote provoked massive street protests that led to a new election, which Yushchenko won easily.

Yanukovych's party will not reenter government, but the two leaders and former archrivals met before the parliamentary vote and agreed to a 10-point memorandum that includes clauses on political reform, free access to the media, and property rights guarantees. Under the agreement, Yanukovych's party will also be able to offer policy proposals to the new government.

Yanukovych then swung his party's 50 votes in parliament behind Yekhanurov.

The new prime minister said that he expects to name a new government next week and that at least a third of the ministries will be headed by technocrats rather than politicians.

The coalition that led last year's Orange Revolution, however, has fallen apart amid charges of corruption in the presidential administration and in the government. Yushchenko's former chief of staff accused other members of the presidential staff of corruption, including one of Yushchenko's closest advisers, Petro Poroshenko, the head of the Defense and Security Council. Poroshenko, who resigned, denied the charges.

Tymoshenko, 44, and her backers publicly supported the allegations. With his allies completely at odds, Yushchenko dismissed the government led by Tymoshenko, a charismatic orator who fired up the crowds that swept Yushchenko to power. Yushchenko also accused the former prime minister of corruption. Tymoshenko denied the charge, but the break between the two hardened.

Yekhanurov's appointment is likely to be only a brief moratorium in the clash between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko. After parliamentary elections next March, Tymoshenko will be seeking to return as prime minister.

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