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'We need new brains': MPs vote to oust Ukraine's prime minister

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Left, former prime minister Oleksiy Honcharuk. Right, Ukraine's new prime minister Denys Shmygal at the parliament session hall in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 4, 2020.
Left, former prime minister Oleksiy Honcharuk. Right, Ukraine's new prime minister Denys Shmygal at the parliament session hall in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 4, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky
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Ukraine has a new prime minister after MPs voted overwhelmingly to oust incumbent Oleksiy Honcharuk.

They voted 353-0 in favour of accepting the resignation of Honcharuk, who had clashed with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Zelenskiy, in a speech to MPs before the vote on Wednesday (4 March), blamed Honcharuk for failing to halt an industrial slump and for not meeting tax collection targets, according to the Associated Press.

“We need new brains and new hearts in the government,” said Zelenskiy.

Later, MPs appointed Denys Shmygal to succeed Honcharuk as the head of Ukraine's government.

Honcharuk, 35, who was the youngest head of government in Ukraine's history, first offered his resignation in January.

That came after he was caught on tape saying Zelenskiy — a former sitcom star with no previous political experience — knew nothing about the economy.

Zelenskiy called the situation “unpleasant” but asked Honcharuk to stay on in the job.

In his speech on Wednesday, Zelenskiy said while members of Honcharuk's cabinet weren't mired in corruption their efforts to eradicate graft hadn't been strong enough.

``"It's not enough not to steal," he said. "We promised citizens to win the fight against corruption and it hasn't even been a tie."

In response, Honcharuk pointed to low inflation and macroeconomic stability among his achievements and praised Zelenskiy's leadership.

"We have a good president, he's a decent and honest person," Honcharuk said.