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Ukraine appoints Groysman new prime minister

Ukraine's parliament has appointed pro-Western speaker Volodymyr Groysman as prime minister in a bid to end gridlock in the war-torn nation. He replaces the unpopular Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who fell out with the president.

Lawmakers in Kyiv voted by 257 to 50 on Thursday to approve the resignation of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk - condemned by President Petro Poroshenko for losing the public's trust - and select Volodymyr Groysman in the first cabinet overhaul since

pro-Western Ukrainians overthrew the pro-Moscow government in 2014.

"I understand my responsibilities," Groysman, a 38-year-old lawyer, told parliamentarians ahead of the vote. "I will show you what leading a country really means."

He is seen

as a Poroshenko protege who has gained stature

by keeping the notoriously rowdy parliament - prone to raucous fisticuffs - in relative peace.

Groysman has also backed unpopular belt-tightening measures prescribed by the International Monetary Fund as part of its

$17.5 billion (15.4 billion euro) rescue package for Ukraine

in 2014.

"I stress the imperative and inviolable necessity of continuing cooperation with the IMF and other international lenders," the new prime minister said.

Earlier this week, Yatsenyuk

submitted his resignation after weeks of pressure

on him to step down. His cabinet survived a no-confidence vote in February, but two parties left the governing coalition to protest the failure to oust the prime minister, who was under fire over the worsening economy and slow pace of reforms.

Another Western belt-tightener

Ukraine Wladimir Groisman

Volodymyr Groysman was elected on President Poroshenko's party ticket in October 2014 and became speaker the following month.

Yatsenyuk saw his party's approval plunge to around 2 percent due to a broad public perception that he was too close to Ukraine's oligarchy, which wielded enormous clout under previous administrations and which he had vowed to fight.

Poroshenko, who has a personal fortune from his confectionary giant Roshen, has fallen out of favor with many Ukrainians who believe he has failed to weed out corruption among the country's governing elite.

In recent months, political tensions have risen and some respected reformers have resigned, citing disenchantment with the government's cronyism and entrenched corruption.

Meanwhile, relations with neighboring Russia have plummeted to an all-time low since a nationalist government jettisoned its pro-Russia president.

Moscow responded by annexing Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and supporting armed separatists in a conflict that has killed thousands in southeastern Ukraine.

jar/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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