Ukrainian lawmakers overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to accept the resignation of the prime minister, whose performance over his six-month tenure came under severe criticism from President Volodymyr Zelenskiy
KYIV, Ukraine —
Ukrainian lawmakers overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to accept the resignation of the prime minister, whose performance over his six-month tenure came under severe criticism from President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The president’s Servant of the People party, which dominates the parliament, took the lead in relieving Oleksiy Honcharuk of his post.
The vote was clear — 353 to zero with 40 abstaining.
When addressing lawmakers before the vote, Zelenskiy took aim at Honcharuk for failing to halt an industrial slump and for not meeting tax collection targets.
“We need new brains and new hearts in the government,” the president said.
Lawmakers are set to vote Denys Shmygal as Honcharuk’s successor later Wednesday.
Shmygal, who was named deputy prime minister last month, had previously served as head of the regional administration in the western region of Ivano-Frankivsk.
Several key Cabinet members are also set to lose their jobs in the shake-up.
The 35-year-old Honcharuk first offered his resignation in January after he was caught on tape saying Zelenskiy — a former sitcom star with no previous political experience — knows nothing about the economy. Zelenskiy then called the situation “unpleasant,” but asked Honcharuk to stay in post.
Zelenskiy on Wednesday noted that while members of Honcharuk’s Cabinet weren’t mired in corruption their efforts to eradicate graft hasn’t been strong enough.
“It’s not enough not to steal,” he said, adding that the Cabinet hasn’t been active enough in eradicating corruption. “We promised citizens to win the fight against corruption, and it hasn’t even been a tie.”
The Cabinet reshuffle comes as Zelenskiy’s approval ratings have dropped significantly since his landslide victory in his election victory in April.
Zelenskiy, 42, campaigned on promises to end the war with Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine and combat the country’s endemic corruption.
Zelenskiy initiated a new round of talks to settle the conflict and an exchange of war prisoners, but clashes in the east have persisted.
Over the past few months, Zelenskiy also found himself embroiled in the impeachment case against President Donald Trump, who was accused of withholding around $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to pressure it to investigate Democratic presidential rival Biden. Trump was impeached in December on two counts by the Democratic-run House, but the Republican-run Senate acquitted him on both counts.