Ukraine parliament appoints 35-year-old lawyer as new Prime Minister | News | DW | 29.08.2019
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Ukraine parliament appoints 35-year-old lawyer as new Prime Minister

Ukraine's new parliament meets for the first time, appointing Oleksiy Honcharuk as PM. The former activist and lawyer, who has only three months' government experience, pledged to end corruption and boost the economy.

Ukraine's new parliament met for the first time on Thursday and selected 35-year-old Oleksiy Honcharuk as the country's prime minister.

Ukraine's new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, formerly a comedian who played the president on screen, made the decision after promising to bring in fresh faces to government and move away from an establishment that he says has ruled the country since independence in 1991.

Honcharuk, who has only three months' experience of government in Zelenskiy's administration, pledged economic improvements and an end to corruption when addressing parliament.

"We have more than 10 million people living below the poverty line.... We have war in the east, and above all of this we have corruption. We have to stop it and we will," Honcharuk said in a speech to applauding lawmakers.

'Servant of the People'

Well over half of the 450 seats in parliament now belong to Zelenskiy's new party, "Servant of the People." Facing a hostile parliament after his landslide victory, Zelenskiy called for snap parliamentary elections in July that gave his party 254 seats.

The new MPs quickly approved of the president's appointees for top government jobs, including the selection of Honcharuk.

Zelenskiy's party takes its name from a popular television sitcom in which the president played a high-school teacher turned president. His 254 MPs are also all political newcomers.

Read more: German foreign minister urges Russia, Ukraine to revive peace talks

New government agenda

Many Ukrainians welcome the change following years of elitist rule. The country is one of Europe's poorest.

"You all have the chance to enter history books as the parliament that did the impossible, which put into practice everything that was not done over previous 28 years," Zelenskiy said, referring to the period since independence.

The new government hopes to liberalize Ukraine's stagnating economy by introducing economic reforms and encouraging integration into Europe.

The president said that on the agenda is settling the conflict in eastern Ukraine and seeking solutions to the ongoing war with Russian-backed separatists. He also said that Ukrainians expect lawmakers to help return Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

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mvb/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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