Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Constitutional Tuesday: Ukraine at the cross roads

Two important events that could define the turning point in the current crisis facing Ukraine are expected to take place today.

1. The Constitutional Court is expected to start its deliberation on the government appeal against the President's April 2 decree to dismiss Ukraine's democratically elected Parliament.

2. The Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe (PACE) is the holding of an urgent session of the Assembly to consider and debate the functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine at noon. Ukrainian Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovych, will address the European parliamentarians

It is unknown if the Constitutional Court will meet today following concerns that a number of members of the Constitutional Court are refusing to take part in the Courts deliberations. Allegations of corruption. bribery and politicisation of the Court membership continues to plague the Ukrainian Court. Any delay in the determination of the Court will only exacerbate the Crisis in Ukraine.

Update: The Constitutional Court commenced hearing the governments appeal today with all 18 judges in attendance

PACE: The European Assembly will now consider the Ukrainian issue on Tuesday with a follow up session planned for Thursday. If the Constitutional Court fails to hear the Government appeal against the Presidential decree then PACE could once again be called on to help mediate and resolve Ukraine's crisis. PACE President, René van der Linden, has made a statement (Video Blog 38:45 min) PACE is willing to provide assistance and that PACE is looking for a resolution of the crisis facing Ukraine from within Ukraine itself. One suggestion has been made that in the event that the Ukraine Constitutional Court is deadlocked, and unable to fulfill its role, Ukraine could call on the European Venice Commission to forward a submission on the legality of the Presidential decree which could in turn be considered by Constitutional Court and the various interested political parties.

PACE has stated that it is willing to assist in Ukraine but only if requested by Ukraine itself. It is unclear as from whom this request is for assistance is to be made. Presumable it should have the consent from both the Government and the President. PACE could well act on the request of one party to the dispute.

Update: Viktor Yanukovych has addressed the European Assemby in Strasbourg.