Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk resigns

Mon 11 Apr 2016

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk resigns

On 10 April Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced his resignation. In a video address he said: “Having done everything to ensure stability and make a smooth transition of power possible, I decided to step down from the post of prime minister of Ukraine.” On Tuesday 12 April his request will be submitted to the Parliament.

No-confidence vote
When Yatsenyuk became Prime Minister in 2014, he promised to tackle corruption and implement economic reforms but instead he has increasingly become the focus of accusations of corruption, even though no concrete evidence was produced. President Petro Poroshenko asked Yatsenyuk already in February to quit in order to restore trust in the government, after which a vote of no-confidence was initiated. 226 votes were needed to accept the no-confidence vote, but only 194 voted in favour so Yatsenyuk survived.

New Prime Minister
President Petro Poroshenko could now consolidate his power if he can install the current parliament speaker Volodymyr Groysman, also a member of his own party, as the new Prime Minister. On 24 March Groysman already emerged as the frontrunner to replace Yatsenyuk as Prime Minister. Groysman might be a good compromise candidate to balance competing factional interests in Ukraine. But he would still need to convince the US, the EU and the IMF that Ukraine would honour its international commitments.

Political deadlock
After the no-confidence vote of Yatsenyuk, two coalition parties left the governing coalition to protest the failure to oust Yatsenyuk. This has created a political deadlock when the remaining parties lost the majority. A new coalition could end months of political unrest and corruption allegations that hinder the progress of derailed negotiations with the IMF for a new 1.7 billion Dollar loan to prop up the country’s economy. On 30 March the prospects for a new coalition were looking good until Yulia Tymoshenko (Fatherlands’ party) brought up 10 to 15 conditions including scrapping a tax on pension payments and rolling back energy price hikes.

International interference
In the parliamentary elections of October 2015, Yatsenyuk’s party became the second largest party. He formed a parliamentary coalition with the president’s bloc and several other parties. Yatsenyuk was able to push through some tough and highly unpopular austerity measures prescribed by the IMF. His party’s approval rating has since slumped to two percent, because of the painful economic reforms and his perceived inability to tackle state corruption.

According to a statement of the White House, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Yatsenyuk spoke before Yatsenyuk’s resignation over the phone. “The leaders agreed these changes must be irreversible and that continued progress is critical to securing a prosperous future for the people of Ukraine.“ The leaders also agreed on the importance of assembling a new cabinet committed to implementing needed reforms, in particular those recommended by the International Monetary Fund and European Union. Head of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, said Ukraine has become "very volatile" since Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk resigned.

Sources: RFE/RL, BBC, Guardian, Kyivpost, Unian,