Ukraine coalition loses majority after second party quits

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine’s Samopomich party has quit the ruling coalition, one of its leaders Oleh Berezyuk said on Thursday, increasing pressure on Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk to find new allies or risk the collapse of the government.

The announcement came just a day after another party led by former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko quit the coalition. The loss of the Samopomich party’s 26 lawmakers therefore leaves the alliance of Yatseniuk’s party and the President’s faction without a majority in parliament.

Samopomich considers it “impossible to remain further in a union of political powers that participated in an oligarch-led coup in parliament,” Berezyuk said in a briefing.

The government survived a no confidence motion in parliament on Tuesday, but some critics have said this is because lawmakers backed by Ukraine’s powerful businessmen swung the vote by leaving the chamber without casting a ballot.

Kiev’s slow progress in enacting reforms, including reducing the power of vested interests in policymaking, has angered the Ukrainian public and delayed the disbursement of aid under a $40 billion International Monetary Fund-led bailout programme.

Yatseniuk, who has said he is in talks with other political groups on joining the coalition, called for unity among remaining members of the alliance.

“I appeal to the president and his faction, to all healthy democratic powers to turn over a new leaf,” he said in government meeting following Samopomich’s announcement.

Getting new allies could help Yatseniuk stave off the prospect of a snap election, but he may struggle to pass critical reforms due to the high level of opposition to his government within the President’s faction in the coalition.

Reporting by Pavel Poltityuk and Natalia Zinets; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; editing by Matthias Williams