Ukraine leader chooses PM Azarov for new term in post

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December 9, 2012 11:21 PM EST

Ukraine's Mykola Azarov was set to keep his job as prime minister after the country's president nominated him on Sunday for a fresh term in the post.

President Viktor Yanukovich's nomination of Azarov, which was announced on the presidential website, has to be approved by the new parliament on December 12 when it holds its first session following an election on October 28.

But this seems certain since the ruling Party of the Regions emerged from the election as the biggest single group in the 450-seat chamber and it should easily muster a majority for Azarov's reinstatement.

Azarov, 64, has served as Yanukovich's prime minister since the latter won the presidency in February 2010, and is regarded as a safe pair of hands and a political neutral who is not linked to any specific group of billionaire power-brokers in the country.

Among his first big tasks will be to negotiate a new bailout programme from the International Monetary Fund to help the former Soviet republic repay, or refinance, $9.1 billion owed to foreign creditors next year.

An IMF mission is scheduled to visit Kiev in the second half of January to start discussion on a new stand-by arrangement.

Yanukovich accepted the resignation of Azarov's government on December 3, a move that had been widely expected after the election, and Azarov has been heading an interim government since then.

(Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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