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Ukraine is close to forming a new pro-West government

If coalition talks succeed, it will solidify the country’s shift away from Russia under Poroshenko.

Petro Poroshenko, looking particularly happy during a press conference yesterday.
Petro Poroshenko, looking particularly happy during a press conference yesterday.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE PRO-WESTERN WINNERS of Ukraine’s parliamentary poll were negotiating the formation of a ruling coalition Monday, but fighting with pro-Russian insurgents highlighted the obstacles to their promises of peace and close ties to the European Union.

The day after pro-Western and moderate nationalist forces backing President Petro Poroshenko scored a big win in Sunday’s election, the hard work of coalition building began.

Results with 60 percent of precincts reporting showed Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front and the Petro Poroshenko Bloc neck and neck with about 22 percent of votes each.

Expectations were that the pair would form a government, with Yatsenyuk keeping his premier’s post.

A draft deal could be released by the end of Monday, said Yuriy Lutsenko from the Poroshenko Bloc, Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported.

Ukraine Election commission officials count ballots at a polling station in Kiev. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Russia welcomed the outcome as backing for “a peaceful resolution” of the separatist war, while the head of the EU executive, Jose Manuel Barroso, called the election a “victory of democracy and European reforms”.

Observers from the pan-European OSCE group said the election, held in challenging conditions, “largely upheld democratic commitments”.

But in a fiery reminder of the hurdles Poroshenko faces, an election-period lull in the rebel-held east ended early Monday in a barrage of artillery fire.

Dozens of rockets fired by pro-Russian insurgents could be heard blasting from the city of Donetsk towards a nearby Ukrainian military base, AFP correspondents said.

More shelling was reported near the government-held coastal city of Mariupol, while military authorities reported the deaths of two soldiers in a rebel attack on Sunday near Lugansk.

- © AFP, 2014

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