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New Ukrainian Parliament Elects PM, Speaker

Ukrainian Parliament Confirms Yatsenyuk As Prime Minister
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WATCH: Ukraine's parliament voted to keep Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the country's prime minister on November 27. Yatsenyuk leads a new, five-party pro-Western coalition government. The legislature met for the first time since elections in October and began business with a rousing rendition of the national anthem. (RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service)

Ukraine's new parliament has elected Arseniy Yatsenyuk for a new term as prime minister.

In a widely expected move, the Verkhovna Rada on November 27 confirmed Yatsenyuk to stay on as prime minister with the backing of 341 deputies out of 390 present.

In its first session since the elections last month, the Rada also elected former Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman as parliament speaker.

Outgoing parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchynov opened the session by calling for a minute of silence in the memory of those killed during protests in Kyiv earlier this year that led to the ouster of pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych.

President Petro Poroshenko, in his address to the inaugural session, said Ukraine should give up prohibitions forbidding it from joining military blocs such as NATO.

"The nonaligned status voted for in 2010 has not been able and will not be able to guarantee the security and territorial unity of our country," he said.

Poroshenko also called for the immediate overhaul of a justice system he said was corrupt from the top down.

He said a successful reform program would enable Ukraine to consider applying for European Union membership within five years.

Pro-Western parties swept to victory in the October 26 elections, led by Poroshenko's bloc and Yatsenyuk's People's Front.

Poroshenko called the early poll in a bid to set Ukraine on a new path eight months after Yanukovych was ousted following opposition protests.

Five pro-Western parties, which have agreed to form a ruling coalition, control a total of 288 seats in the 421-seat parliament.

But talks amongst the coalition partners on forming a new cabinet have bogged down.

Analysts say the delay is due to rivalry between Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk over control of key portfolios.

However, Poroshenko said the coalition would strive to maintain the unity of Ukraine, which has been severely tested by Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and ongoing fighting against Moscow-backed separatists in the east of the country.

"One hundred percent are for a unified state, for a unified country," Poroshenko said. "There will be no federalization."

Yatsenyuk dispalyed a united front with Poroshenko, telling him that Ukraine was "our common responsibility."

Meanwhile, the Russian government's press service said Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev spoke with Yatsenyuk by telephone on November 27.

Medvedev and Yatsenyuk discussed financial and economic relations between Russia and Ukraine, the press service added, without elaborating.

With reporting by Interfax, Reuters, AFP, and dpa
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