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Ukrainian parliament may try to restrict president’s powers — opinion

April 24, 14:06 UTC+3 KIEV

The process of restricting the president’s powers was set in motion after Zelensky’s victory in the first round of the presidential election on March 31

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© Mykola Lazarenko/Press Office of the President of Ukraine/TASS

KIEV, April 24. /TASS/. The Ukrainian parliament may try to restrict the president’s powers by transferring part of them to the Verkhovna Rada or the government, parliament member Valery Pisarenko, of the Revival faction, said on Facebook.

"The Verkhovna Rada is making preparations for considerably restricting the president’s powers. The newly-elected president may find himself in the position of a nominal figure, caught in the web of government bureaucracy," he said, adding that "most of the plotters’ proposals are unconstitutional."

Pisarenko said some legislators might try to restrict the president’s right to appoint the defense minister, interior minister, chief of the security service SBU and secretary of the National Security and Defense Council. He believes that the prospects such a bill might be supported look bleak, though.

"Even if it passes the first reading, I will propose so many constitutional amendments we will be considering them until the next parliament’s term of office is over," Pisarenko warned. According to other legislators such a bill may be considered on Thursday and the incumbent, Pyotr Poroshenko, who lost the election race to Vladimir Zelensky, will have the time to sign it into law.

The process of restricting the president’s powers was set in motion after Zelensky’s victory in the first round of the presidential election on March 31. The Self-Reliance faction in the Ukrainian parliament proposed a bill entitled On the President of Ukraine that considerably clipped the main powers of the head of state. After the runoff, in which Zelensky won a landslide victory, the parliament’s top officials - Speaker Andrei Parubiy and two deputy speakers - Irina Gerashchenko and Oksana Syroid - said passing the law was an urgent need.

Law On the President of Ukraine

Under the proposed bill the president would in fact lose the powers of the supreme commander-in-chief, because the armed forces would become subordinate to the prime minster, empowered to introduce and enforce martial law, while the president would be able to introduce a state of emergency or martial law only after mandatory coordination with the prime minister. The General Staff would be made answerable to the Defense Minister. A Military Cabinet would be formed instead of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief’s headquarters.

Impeachment

The impeachment procedures, currently described in the law on the Verkhovna Rada’s rules of procedure, would be made simpler. Currently an impeachment motion can be initiated by a simple majority of legislators (226). The Self-Reliance faction suggests the power to initiate the procedure should be delegated to the Prosecutor-General or any faction or group of legislators in parliament. The work of the panel of inquiry under the impeachment procedures would be simplified considerably. Constitutional Court judges are not to be invited to participate in the probe. The inquiry’s findings will not be disclosed to the Verkhovna Rada and its members.

According to the bill the impeachment procedure is confined to four steps. After receiving conclusions from the constitutional Court and the Supreme Court the Verkhovna Rada’s speaker urgently registers a resolution for suspending the president’s powers. The findings are then discussed in parliament. The impeachment follows if it receives support from no fewer than 300 legislators.

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