Ukraine’s autonomous republic yesterday marked "Constitution Day" as Crimean lawmakers continued work on a new draft constitution for the peninsula. Constitution Day was established to mark the constitution adopted by the Crimean parliament on May 6, 1992, which gave Crimea some of the attributes of a sovereign state, such as the right to grant its own citizenship. After bitter disputes, the controversial law was finally canceled by the Ukrainian parliament in March 1995.
A new draft constitution was provisionally approved by the Ukrainian parliament at the end of March this year, with the exception of twenty articles which the central authorities said must be revised. The Ukrainian parliament gave the Crimean parliament thirty days to come up with a new draft. The Crimean parliament has not yet produced a new draft, but work is understood to be proceeding and informed sources say that Kiev is prepared to be lenient on the deadline because several public holidays, including Easter, have intervened. The center is said still to be confident that the Crimeans will eventually produce an acceptable document; when they do, the Ukrainian parliament has undertaken to examine it within ten days.
Meanwhile, negotiations also continue between President Leonid Kuchma and the Ukrainian parliament over Ukraine’s own constitution, which must be adopted by the end of June. President Leonid Kuchma and parliamentary representatives have reached agreements on most of the disputed points of the document. Government officials said yesterday that Kuchma has accepted a unicameral parliament–instead of the bicameral one he favors–for a transitional period of at least five years. Differences have narrowed but still remain to be bridged with regard to presidential versus parliamentary control over the cabinet of ministers. A new parliamentary commission was empowered yesterday to finalize the draft in negotiations with the presidency for early submission to the parliament. (Interfax-Ukraine, May 6).
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