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Ukraine's president approved on Thursday Yulia Tymoshenko, the leader
Ukraine's president approved on Thursday Yulia Tymoshenko, the leader of the pro-Western majority coalition, as candidate for prime minister, the presidential press office said.

Viktor Yushchenko backed the parliamentary majority's choice of premier soon after it was submitted by the speaker. The Supreme Rada now has to vote on the candidature. Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk said a vote was unlikely on Thursday, and did not specify when it could take place.

Tymoshenko will need the support of at least 226 lawmakers to become premier. The coalition of her eponymous bloc with pro-presidential Our Ukraine has 227 members in the 450-seat legislature. However, observers have suggested that some Our Ukraine members could reject her candidacy.

Tymoshenko, the president's ally in the 2004 "orange" revolution, served as head of government in 2005 but was fired by Yushchenko after less than eight months in office. The two reconciled this year during a standoff with outgoing Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who has pursued more Moscow-friendly policies.

Yanukovych's Party of Regions won the largest number of seats in the legislature in the snap elections in September, but failed to forge a majority coalition. Yanukovych, Yushchenko's presidential rival in 2004, became prime minister several months after winning the March 2006 polls.

Yushchenko called snap elections amid a protracted power struggle with Yanukovych after several members of his bloc defected to the Party of Regions.


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