Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 60

Dagestan’s parliament, the Popular Assembly, has taken the unprecedented step of amending Article 93 of the republic’s Fundamental Law. The law has until now stipulated that the chairmanship of Dagestan’s State Council — its highest executive body — may not be held by a representative of one ethnic group for two consecutive terms. As amended, the constitution makes no mention of the chairman’s ethnic background. It stipulates only that the same person may not serve for more than two consecutive terms. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, March 20)

This amendment was pushed by the incumbent chairman of the State Council, Magomedali Magomedov, an ethnic Dargin. Two years ago, he had already decided to change the constitution. On his initiative, the State Council’s term, which should have run out in 1996, was extended. This body’s present term is due to expire on July 26. Its next chairman will be elected by a constitutional assembly, which will consist of 121 deputies of the Popular Assembly and the same number of local leaders. If Magomedov does not take part in the new elections, the new chairman will most likely be an Avar (the largest ethnic group in Dagestan, possessing a powerful and well-educated political elite). According to Nezavisimaya gazeta, however, local observers think that chances are good that Magomedov will remain in power, due to his entourage having influence on deputies on both republic and local levels. In Makhachkala, mass protest meetings were held against the amendment. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, March 20)

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