The dream team swept to power in the country’s peaceful ‘Orange Revolution’ less than a year ago was in tatters, threatening the success of the nation’s pro-Western course.

“Today we are definitely two different teams and these two teams will go their separate ways,” the Ms Tymoshenko said during a television talk show.

The former premier — a dynamic figure who helped propel Mr Yushchenko and his pro-Western political movement to victory in the January election after December’s Orange Revolution – said on television that her dismissal was unfair but said life would continue to improve for Ukrainians.

The move is a major blow to President Yushchenko ahead of a key legislative election next year that will redraw Ukraine’s political landscape.

Constitutional changes on January 1 will transfer many presidential powers to parliament and Mr Yushchenko and his allies will need to score a decisive victory during the March 2006 legislative election in order to continue their pro-Western policies.

In a live TV statement Ms Tymoshenko said several Yushchenko aides were guilty of corruption and said they had schemed against her ever since she was appointed prime minister in February.

Mr Yushchenko sacked his seven-month-old cabinet on Thursday in a bid to quash a corruption scandal sparked by a power struggle between Ms Tymoshenko and the powerful former chief of the National Security Council, Petro Poroshenko.

The Ukrainian president named a trusted ally, Yury Yekhanurov, as acting premier.

Mr Yushchenko said the new government would continue with the reform policies that he set out at his inauguration in January.

He spoke with European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso to assure him he would continue a pro-Western course, a statement said.

Mr Yekhanurov said parliament would likely vote on his candidacy as premier after September 19.

The appointment of Mr Yekhanurov was welcomed across Ukraine’s political spectrum and by investors.

Mr Yekhanurov said his government would favour negotiations to resolve disputes over past privatisation deals in the country.

Ms Tymoshenko’s cabinet had been criticised for its efforts to re-nationalise several enterprises that were sold cheaply to insiders of the previous regime.

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