Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 91

The Chechen authorities have finished work on a new constitution for the republic, which was begun in February after President Aslan Maskhadov issued a decree ordering the introduction of a government based on Islamic Sharia law. The secretary of the state commission charged with drafting the new constitution, Dolkhan Khazhaev, said that the Chechen people will be able to get a glimpse of the draft constitution only after it is translated from Russian into Chechen. Khazhaev said the draft is based on the demands of the Koran, Sharia law, the Sunni Muslim prophets, Chechen traditions and customs. The constitutions of a number of Islamic states–including Pakistan, Egypt, Iran and Syria–were used, he said, in drafting it. Khazhaev also said that draft constitutions were submitted by former Chechen Premier Shamil Basaev, the republic’s parliament and the military-political organization Jamaat, which is viewed as adhering to radical Islamic ideology.

As for more concrete problems involving building state institutions, the constitution’s drafters say, all such problems were liquidated by Maskhadov’s decree introducing Sharia governance. The new constitution envisions Sharia governance being administered by a mekhkda, or father of the nation, who is called upon to become the president’s successor, and a council of the nation, which will take the place of parliament and to which the mekhkda will be subordinated in the passing of laws which do not violate the Koran. The right to make decisions involving important issues will be fully transferred to the mekhkda, who will consult first with the council of the nation before taking such decisions. Only Muslims will have the right to vote or to hold elective office. Whatever the case, official Djohar is not rushing toward radical reform. It has said that the current president and parliament will carry out their duties to the end of their terms. Both Maskhadov and the parliament came to power in elections held in 1997 (Nezavisimaya gazeta, May 7).