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24.02.2011

Civic Assembly of Ukraine: the people must write the Constitution

   

The opposition and civic organizations have criticized this week’s Presidential Decree on creating a Constitutional Assembly for preparing amendments to the Constitution.  Instead a draft law is proposed on a referendum for affirming the Constitution.

In his 21 February Decree President Yanukovych instructed that support be given to the initiative of former President Kravchuk on creating a Constitutional Assembly for preparing amendments to the Constitution.  The list of members includes Kravchuk, academic staff of “the most substantial academic institutions in the legal field”, as well as retired Supreme and Constitutional Court judges.

Ihor Koliuszko, Head of the Centre for Political and Legal Reform, sees the Decree as incomprehensible and says that the Assembly mentioned in it will not be representative enough for a body which is to write a new Constitution. “If the President sees the need for broad reform of the Constitution, he should explain why, for what and in what direction”.

He adds that if the deputies are not capable of making such amendments to the Constitution that would make reform possible and prevent new conflict between the branches of power, the people are entitled to independently pass a new Constitution through a referendum. He points out that this is guaranteed by Article 5 of the current one.

He believes that a draft Constitution should be drawn up by a Constitutional Assembly specially called by the mechanism of a Constituent Gathering. A law on affirming such a procedure has already been tabled in parliament by Taras Stetskiv (Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defence). This envisages that delegates to the Constituent Gathering are elected in majority constituencies from “moral and professional “ authoritative figures. They must voluntarily reject any participation in bodies of local, central, legislative, judicial, or representative power for at least 10 years. The draft law also prohibits political parties from putting forth particular candidates, or campaigning.

Oleksandr Savytsky

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