KIEV (Reuters) – Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk submitted his resignation for a second time after reports that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy might be gearing up to sack him, the Ukrainian news outlet NV reported on Friday night.
FILE PHOTO: Ukraine’s Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk speaks during a news briefing following protests against the arrival of evacuees from coronavirus-hit China’s Hubei province in the village of Novi Sanzhary in Poltava region, Ukraine February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
A source told Reuters that Honcharuk was set to leave but gave no further details. Neither Honcharuk’s office nor Zelenskiy’s office responded to requests for comment. Zelenskiy has convened a special parliament meeting on Wednesday.
Replacing Honcharuk would come at a time when confidence in Zelenskiy’s government has fallen since the actor and comedian won a landslide election victory last year promising to end the war in the Donbass and tackle corruption.
Any reshuffle would come just as Ukraine is trying to secure the release of billions of dollars in loans from the International Monetary Fund, a move contingent on Kiev’s progress in passing reforms and tackling graft.
Honcharuk last week denied he had submitted his resignation or discussed his departure with Zelenskiy, but his position has been under scrutiny since the leak in January of a recording that suggested he made unflattering comments about Zelenskiy.
Zelenskiy himself acknowledged meeting Serhiy Tihipko, a businessman and veteran politician who was touted in the Ukrainian media as a potential replacement for Honcharuk.
Deputy Prime Minister Denys Shmygal could be made acting prime minister while a permanent replacement was found, NV said.
Zelenskiy has prioritized ending the war in Donbass but while he has implemented some confidence-building measures with Russia, including prisoner swaps, the conflict simmers on.
Ukrainians’ confidence in the government’s ability to tackle key issues had waned, a report by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology showed last week.
Only 25% of Ukrainians think the authorities have been successful in resolving the Donbass conflict compared to 40% in December, it said.
About 83% said the fight against high-level corruption had been unsuccessful compared to 76% in December, and the proportion of Ukrainians who saw no progress in the investigation of high-profile criminal cases also rose.
Support for Honcharuk fell to 8% from 12% over the same period, while 33% have a negative view of him now.
Under Ukraine’s system, it is parliament that has the power to appoint and fire the prime minister and the government. Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People party has a majority in the chamber, meaning Zelenskiy could sack Honcharuk without needing the approval of other political parties.
Reporting by Ilya Zhegulev and Natalia Zinets; writing by Matthias Williams; editing by Stephen Coates