Deputies and president jockey for position
JERSEY CITY, N.J. - As Ukraine's Parliament prepares to return from recess, the jockeying between national deputies and President Leonid Kuchma and his administration shows no signs of letting up.
Volodymyr Stretovych, the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Judicial Policy and Court and Judicial Reform, told an UNIAN reporter on August 5 that "a serious crisis awaits the Verkhovna Rada" in the autumn, in part because of Mr. Kuchma's insistence that elections, scheduled for March 1998, be postponed for a year.
Mr. Stretovych said President Kuchma's proposal is divisive, as it would split the Verkhovna Rada into two camps, "those for and those against such a decision."
Parliament Chairman Oleksander Moroz has insisted on the need for holding elections as planned, but suggested that the Constitution be amended to allow for five-year terms for deputies, rather than the present four. Mr. Kuchma, however, opposes any such amendment.
On August 4, Presidential Chief of Staff Yevhen Kushniarov told UNIAN that Mr. Kuchma is "categorically against introducing changes to the Constitution." Two days later, Mr. Kushniarov added that deputies should concentrate on three key issues: approval of the new law on elections, discussion of a program for the new Cabinet of Ministers and preparation of the new budget for 1998.
Mr. Stretovych, one of the authors of the Constitution, agreed. He criticized moves to make changes to the Constitution as inexpedient, saying "the time for that has not yet come." He stressed that, instead of reforming state institutions, "we are attempting to change the Constitution."
Mr. Stretovych said that a number of amendments proposed by 150 deputies were only received by his committee on July 17 and are still being studied.
The committee chief added that, first and foremost, the crisis is due to "the lack of political unity between deputies," as well as their preparing for new parliamentary elections due next year. In effect, he asserted that electioneering has already started, regardless of the date of the forthcoming election and that politicians may well be concentrating all their energies on political point-scoring.
Mr. Stretovych stressed that the Verkhovna Rada should not pass new legislation on elections, but instead make changes to existing legislation, annulling the requirement for a minimum number of deputies - presently 50 percent plus one - needed to make a session valid. Mr. Stretovych said he would put forward such a proposal at the special plenary session of Parliament scheduled for August 28-29.
On August 5, Former President Leonid Kravchuk echoed sentiments expressed by the presidential administration that deputies should concentrate their efforts on resolving problems such as the non-payment of back wages, the recent falls in GDP and the continuing decline in manufacturing levels.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, August 10, 1997, No. 32, Vol. LXV
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