Ukrainian parliament set to accept PM’s resignation

Oleksiy Honcharuk

Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk attends a briefing in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s parliament on Wednesday is set to accept the resignation of the nation’s prime minister and reshuffle the Cabinet after six months on the job.

Members of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People party that dominates the parliament said the party decided to accept Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk and replace him with Denys Shmygal.

Shmygal, who was named deputy prime minister last month, had previously served as head of the regional administration in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region.

Lawmakers said that several other key Cabinet members could 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 the job.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused Honcharuk to step down now.

The Cabinet reshuffle comes as Zelenskiy’s approval ratings have dropped significantly since his landslide victory in April’s presidential election. 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 continued.

Over the past months, Zelenskiy also found himself in the middle of 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.

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