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Fiery opposition leader expects to be next premier



Published: Sat, January 15, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



She said there are 'no other alternatives.'

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine's fiery opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said Tuesday she expects to become the country's next prime minister, given her stalwart support for Viktor Yushchenko, whose presidency is increasingly likely.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Tymoshenko said she and Yushchenko signed a written agreement when she joined his coalition that leaves no alternative than for her to head a new government when Yushchenko is inaugurated.

"I believe that Viktor Yushchenko will follow our formal agreement," said Tymoshenko, whose elaborately braided hair, hip orange outfits and sharp tongue have earned her thousands of worshippers among the opposition.

Asked if anyone else could become prime minister, she replied: "There are no other alternatives."

Yushchenko, who won a court-ordered revote on Dec. 26 but has not been declared the victor as his opponent appeals the results, has so far refused to say who he will tap to be prime minister.

"It's too early to begin with names," he told Ukraine's TV5 last week.

Final results expected

The Central Election Commission said Tuesday that it expected to announce final results today, at which point Yushchenko's opponent Viktor Yanukovych is expected to file an appeal with Ukraine's Supreme Court.

Side-by-side with Yushchenko, Tymoshenko became the face of the mass movement dubbed the "Orange Revolution" -- when thousands of opposition supporters flooded the streets of Kiev after the Nov. 21 fraud-marred second-round vote.

She jumped on the backs of trucks to rally the crowds, clambered over a riot police line and repeatedly called for a forcible seizure of power from the opposition's stage on Independence Square. At her behest, protesters stayed on the streets.

When Yushchenko took the stage to declare victory after the revote, the crowd alternated chants of "Yu-shchen-ko! Yu-shchen-ko!" with "Yulia! Yulia!"

"I don't have any doubt that parliament will support my candidacy if Yushchenko will propose it to the parliament," Tymoshenko said. She would need a simple majority in the 450-member parliament to win the post.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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