Constitutional Assembly revolt against Yanukovych
The meeting of the President’s “Constitutional Assembly” on Thursday ended in scandal which could lead to a split among its members. All of this took place in front of a Venice Commission delegation headed by the Commission’s Secretary Thomas Markert.
Glavkom writes that plans to stage a model session went seriously wrong. The plan was to discuss two main issues: reform of the judicial system and of the law enforcement bodies. The Venice Commission delegation was made up of Thomas Markert, the Vice-President Hanna Sukhocka, and a number of other members.
Just before the meeting, the President’s Administration put out a draft bill “On amendments to the Constitution to increase safeguards for judges’ independence”, which Andriy Portnov from the Administration came to present.
The beginning was fine with former President Kravchuk announcing that the profile committee was working and that in the near future there could be a concept framework for constitutional reform, or even its text.
Kravchuk obviously sensed the storm about to break and said that this was not the time to discuss the Law on National Referendums signed by Yanukovych last week. As reported, the Law makes it possible to entirely bypass parliament.
Marina Stavniychuk, Secretary of the Assembly and the President’s Adviser, also tried to keep the meeting on safe ground.
It was not to be.
Ihor Koliushko, Head of the Centre for Political and Legal Reform, refused to be deterred. “Last week the law on a national referendum came into force. This law has direct bearing on our work, it changes the rules of play. After all we sat down at the beginning to “play” one game here, and now in mid stream everything has been changed. I therefore propose putting an appeal from the Constitutional Assembly to the President regarding the law on the agenda and that we consider this issue first”.
Glavkom reports that one after another the members of the Assembly began demolishing the new law on referendums.
Former Speaker Oleksandr Moroz backed Koliushko, saying that while the Assembly is moving on a democratic road, legislation is thus changed in the opposite direction. “While we prepare a concept, a Constitution will be passed by referendum that we haven’t seen”.
“The Law on Referendums has changed everything, even the Constitution, with respect to the powers of the Verkhovna Rada and the Constitutional Court. That arouses serious concern.”, Mykola Melnyk from the Razumkov Centre said.
The new Law, as reported, does indeed make it possible to pass a new Constitution without any involvement of parliament and the Constitutional Court.
Several members of the Assembly believe it possible that they will be thrown a ready draft version from the President’s Administration and that this, under the pretence of a Constitutional Assembly decision, will be put to referendum.
Mykola Kozyubra, former Constitutional Court Judge was once involved in the judgement which did not allow Kuchma to change the Constitution at a referendum bypassing the Verkhovna Rada. He supported Koliuskho, noting among other things that the law signed by the President is full of violations of the Constitution. “We must express our opinion regarding this law today”.
Several members then got up, said that this was not a political club and that the issue of the referendum should be studied in commissions. Their idea, Glavkom writes, was deftly taken up by Kravchuk who said that the issue would be dealt with at the end of the session. This did not effectively happen.
Thomas Markert, as reported separately, has expressed the Venice Commission’s concern regarding the Law.
From a much longer report of what everybody said at Glavkom