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24.07.2007

Civic organizations propose amendments to the Constitution

   

At the All-Ukrainian Civic Assembly over 350 civic organizations are planning to call for changes to the Constitution which would prevent politicians misusing the Main Law of the country.  Yevhen Zakharov, Head of the Board of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union discussed the need for this with a correspondent from the Ukrainian Service of Deutsche Welle.

The civic organizations are convinced that one of the main reasons for the political crisis in Ukraine was the hasty adoption of amendments to the Constitution*.  This means that early elections alone cannot solve the problems. Yevhen Zakharov believes that a new draft Constitution should be drawn up by the public, and not by politicians. 

He expects this to be one of the main resolutions resulting from the All-Ukrainian Civic Assembly.

“The key idea is to pass a revised Constitution. The second task is to ensure a return to the law. Abuse specifically of the law has become endemic among those in power”.  The proposal will suggest a referendum on whether such constitutional reforms should take place. This is a fundamental issue and the people of the country must be asked their opinion. In order to efficiently implement these ideas, the members of the civic organizations plan to hold a Constitutional Assembly.

*  These amendments were passed in a “package vote” (!) along with amendments to electoral legislation in early December 2004.  The electoral changes were needed to ensure that the re-run of the Presidential elections could pass without vote-rigging.  The constitutional amendments had previously been rejected, and there are serious grounds for questioning the constitutionality of the entire proceedings.

The key changes were a move to almost total proportional representation, to a mixed parliamentary-Presidential system, with the President losing some of his powers, and with an extraordinary situation where two of the ministers in the Cabinet of Ministers are appointed by the President, the others by the Prime Minister.  The amendments came into force in January 2006.  The events since then probably make any comment redundant.  They do, however, make the reason for the present civic campaign extremely clear!  [translator]

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