Ukraine president setting up council to draft new constitution

[JURIST] Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko [official website] said Friday that he establish a body to draft a new Ukrainian constitution [text] and will propose amendments to clarify the distribution of power between the presidency, parliament, and the cabinet. In remarks [press release] marking Ukraine's Independence Day, Yushchenko addressed the need for legislative and constitutional reform:

The president said he was "full of determination" to continue changing the country. He described an upcoming snap election as his firm "response to an attack against Ukraine by corrupt politicians" and reiterated his demands that it was important to repeal legislative immunity, renew the system of government and adopt a new constitution.

"I know how to restore order in our Ukrainian house. ...I will establish a constitutional council to draft a new constitution. This process will take longer than a day but nobody will be able to make it too long. It also cannot be a hostage of the [September 30] election, as it is very important for each of us. I firmly repeat what I said two months ago on Constitution Day: our constitution will be adopted at a nationwide Ukrainian referendum."
Ukraine has been mired in constitutional gridlock since Yushchenko was sworn in as president in 2005 [JURIST report]. Viktor Yanukovych [BBC profile], Yushchenko's political rival, currently serves as prime minister and the two have clashed over parliamentary attempts to expand the cabinet's power [JURIST report] at the expense of the presidency.

Earlier this year, Yushchenko issued a presidential decree dissolving parliament [JURIST report] due to what Yushchenko called parliament's deliberate escalation of the country's political crisis [BBC Q&A]. The decree prompted Yanukovych to file a legal challenge before the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, and the two rivals eventually reached a deal to hold parliamentary elections in September [JURIST report], ending the latest crisis. RFE/RL has more.


 

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