President Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine won parliamentary backing Thursday for his choice to become prime minister, but only by securing support from the man he once accused of trying to steal the presidency from him.
"It's time to bury the war hatchet and to forget where it lies," Yushchenko said.
Before the vote, he signed an agreement with the Party of Regions, which is led by Viktor Yanukovych, Yushchenko's opponent in the battle for the presidency last year. Yanukovych defeated Yushchenko in balloting that was widely condemned as fraudulent and that sparked massive street protests, leading to a new vote that Yushchenko won easily.
The president entered into the unlikely alliance to solve a political crisis that began this month when he dismissed his prime minister and onetime close ally, Yulia Tymoshenko. Yushchenko, 51, nominated Yuriy Yekhanurov to replace her, but in a parliamentary vote Tuesday, Yekhanurov failed to muster enough votes to win appointment.
On Thursday, Yanukovych swung his party's 50 parliamentary votes behind Yekhanurov, 57, a regional governor and Yushchenko loyalist.
Yanukovych's party will not become part of the government, but the two leaders agreed to a 10-point memorandum that includes clauses on political reform, free access to the media for all parties, and guarantees of no widespread reexamination of state property sales.
The new prime minister said that he expects to name a government next week and that at least a third of the ministries will be headed by technocrats rather than politicians.
He said his accession signified "the reconciliation of Ukrainian elites in the east and the west." That was a reference to last year's presidential fight, in which Yanukovych drew much of his support in the country's east while Yushchenko swept the west and the capital.
The coalition that led last year's Orange Revolution has fallen apart amid charges of corruption in the presidential administration and in the government. Tymoshenko, 44, and her supporters publicly supported the allegations.
The appointment of Yekhanurov could be only a brief moratorium in the clash between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for March, and Tymoshenko, who remains very popular with the public, will be seeking to return to the office of prime minister after the vote.
Yushchenko's agreement with Yanukovych is likely to be a prominent subject in the campaign. The issue of corruption may also linger. Ukraine's prosecutor general said this week that he has opened an investigation into at least five accusations of official misconduct against members of the administration.