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Ukraine's 'groundhog day': electing new PM

Ukrainian coalition leader Yulia Timoshenko has said she is sure the Rada will appoint her as the next Prime Minister when voting begins later in the day.

Deputies will vote for the third time following Timoshenko's failure to take the post a week ago.

Today Ukraine is expected once again to resort to an ancient and time-tested voting method.

The hi-tech electronic machine is no longer trusted in parliament after buttons and ballots led to law-makers squaring off against each other.

Today the deputies will vote simply by raising hands, or possibly by just standing up.

Just a week ago it was widely believed Yulia Timoshenko’s path to the cherished post of Prime Minister would be an easy ride.

Her supporters, made up of backers of the orange revolution, hold a slim majority in parliament after a snap election in the autumn.

Two votes were held last week – and twice Timoshenko was left stranded, just one vote short of the majority needed.

The result shocked the orange coalition, while the rival parties loyal to the outgoing PM Yanukovich responded with joy. They were promptly accused of having malicious intent to rig the vote.

“For the first time in the history of our Parliament the results of the votes were falsified blatantly. This was confirmed by those deputies whose voting cards were tampered with,” proclaimed Yulia Timoshenko.

The investigators, who even brought in the chief designer of the voting system to give evidence, ruled out any malfunction.

Finally, claims of intentional interference with the voting programme were rejected by President Yushchenko himself. Therefore the question of who prevented Timoshenko from becoming Prime Minister is still open.

The opposition points at thorny relations inside the orange coalition. Seen as Viktor Yushenko’s first ally, she’s now his chief rival for power in Ukraine.

The prime ministerial post would increase her popular support and put her in a better position in the presidential race, and reduce Yushchenko's chances.