Ukrainian prime minister tenders his resignation in parliament
Published 24/07/2014 | 16:37
Ukraine's prime minister tendered his resignation on Thursday, berating parliament for failing to pass legislation to take control over the country's increasingly precarious energy situation and to increase army financing.
Earlier on Thursday two parties quit a parliamentary coalition, a move that opened the way for a new election to clear what a politician called "Moscow agents" from the chamber, a decision welcomed by President Petro Poroshenko.
Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk's resignation could leave a hole at the heart of decision-making when Ukraine is struggling to fund a war with pro-Russian rebels in its east and dealing with the aftermath of a plane crash that killed 298 people.
The usually mild-mannered Yatseniuk bellowed at politicians who had failed to pass a law to allow a liberalisation of control over Ukraine's pipeline system.
He said Ukraine's politicians were at risk of losing the hearts and minds of the thousands who protested for months in the "Maidan" protests in favour of joining Europe and against a pro-Moscow president.
"History will not forgive us," he told parliament.
"Millions of people made this revolution. We did not take the European choice but the 'heavenly hundred' and thousands of other Ukrainians did," he said, referring to those killed, mainly by sniper fire, during the protests.
Yatseniuk, who has been central to talks with the European Union and the United States, cannot leave office immediately, political analysts said, because he is obliged to oversee his duties before a new prime minister and government are installed.
But his impassioned speech underlined the frustration of many in Ukraine that change in the higher echelons of power was taking too much time.
The mood has also sunk in Kiev since the downing of a Malaysian airliner in rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine last week, even though Ukrainian forces are making headway in the military campaign against the separatists.
Poroshenko welcomed the decision by the nationalist party Svoboda and the Udar (Punch) party of former boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko to withdraw from the majority coalition in parliament.
"Society wants a full reset of state authorities," Poroshenko said in a statement, adding the move showed that those who decided to quit the coalition were following the will of the people.
Politicians and political activists have complained that while Ukraine has a new president, it has yet to elect a new parliament since the toppling of Viktor Yanukovich in February, and accuse his supporters of hampering its work.
Yatseniuk said that by blocking legislation, like a bill to exert tighter control over the energy sector in the face of dwindling natural gas supplies from Russia, the parliament was putting Ukraine's future at risk.
By not tackling budget spending, it was also putting the lives of Ukraine's soldiers at risk, he said.
"Our government now has no answer to the question; how are we to pay wages, how are we tomorrow morning going to send fuel for armoured vehicles, how will we pay those families who have lost soldiers, to look after the army?" he asked parliament.
"Those people who are sitting there under fire, can we just think of them?"