Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ukrainian Parliament to hold a September 4 Autumn Session

The speaker of the 5 convocation of Ukraine's parliament Olexandr Moroz has indicated that the Verkhovna Rada will be convened on September 4, 2007
Dr Moroz announced that the parliament will consider a number of issues including the proposal to remove immunity from public officials (including members of Parliament and the President). the parliament will also consider the proposed impeachment of Ukraine's President for breaches of oath and Ukraine's Constitution
Ukraine has been in "constitutional limbo" now for just under 6 months.
The president's earlier decrees dismissing the parliament are considered to be unconstitutional in that the president has no authority to dismiss the parliament except pursuant to the provisions of Article 90.  His previous decrees do not conform with the requirements of Article 90.  The situation has been exacerbated by the president's illegal interference in the operation of the Constitutional Court  which has prevented the Constitutional Court from ruling on the legality of his actions.
Under Ukraine's Constitution (Article 90 section 3) if the parliament is unable to commence its regular session, scheduled to start on September 4, then 30 days following  (October 5) the president has the authority to terminate the parliament and hold fresh election, but not before.   
If the parliament is able to successfully commence its next session on September 4 then the legality of early elections scheduled for September 30 will once again be brought into question.
Kyiv Post an article published on August
The Kyiv Post, in its article published on August 22, indicated that "nearly 120 opposition MPs have already resigned their seats in parliament" This is less then the 161 members previously claimed to have resigned by the president and opposition parties.
It is unknown if the Kyiv post has made an unintended mistake in its reporting but if the statement is true and 300 or more members of parliament attend the scheduled session on September 4 then Ukraine will once again face a constitutional crisis. 
A crisis of the president's making.
The president, Victor Yushchenko, has demonstrated on more then one occasion that he is not pro-democratic and that he is prepared to ride roughshod over Ukraine's constitution and rule of law by illegally interfering with the operation of Ukraine's Constitution Court in order to avoid judicial review.  
Victor Yushchenko has consistently sought to undermine Ukraine's democratic development at its parliamentary democracy and rule of law in Ukraine.
The current parliamentary system is a significant improvement over the past presidential 'rule by decree' dictatorship. Under the parliamentary model the government is held to account and there are significantly more check and balances on executive government. Its not perfect but it is a step in the right direction.
If the president is allowed to continue to misuse and abuse his authority and power of veto, Ukraine one again, will find itself in a situation of political division.
Political games waiting in the wings
The other issue that has been canvassed, but yet to play out, is what happens if the losing party/bloc fails to win the overall election scheduled for September 30 and opts to exploit a weakness in Ukraine's constitution (Article 82) by not participating in the new convocation of the parliament. 
Ukraine's constitution requires that two-thirds of its membership must be elected and sworn in before the new parliament can take office. (Article 82) If the losing side does not recognise the results of the election, and does not take the oath of office, the new parliament will not come into being. (Article 79)
If the new parliament can not be formed and the old parliament remains in office.  (Article 81) 
Article  90 paragraph states "The authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, that is elected at special elections conducted after the pre-term termination by the President of Ukraine of authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the previous convocation, shall not be terminated within one year from the day of its election." If the government can not be formed within 30 days from the date of the election then the parliament loses its authority.  (Article 90, 82 and 83)
These are unintended circumstance that were never expected to be brought into play or used as a political tactic, in a ongoing power struggle. It is a question of good faith on part of Ukrainians political parties but never the less it highlights flaws in the current Constitution, one that the president and the opposition have already sought to exploit. 
Ukraine could very well see itself in a Mexican stand-off.  Such a proposal would most certainly play into the hands of the president who has and continues to undermine Ukraine's parliamentary democracy.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

The points you raise are very valid. I'm slightly surprised they have not been highlighted more in the Ukrainian media.