The Ukrainian parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee has voted to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Leonid Kuchma and forwarded its resolution for floor action. The committee charged that the president was in violation of the constitution by refusing to sign the law on local state administrations, after the parliament had approved that law and had twice overridden the president’s veto. Kuchma for his part had cited legal and procedural violations and faulty vote-counting as grounds for returning the law to parliament and for withholding his signature pending reconsideration of his objections.
Kuchma and senior officials of his administration are dismissing the impeachment move as "bluff" and "comedy." Deputies of various parties and groups, other than leftists, predict that the impeachment initiative may be supported by some 150 to 170 deputies, short of a simple parliamentary majority (226 out of 450) that would be required for actually launching the impeachment proceedings. Communist deputies, however, hope that some non-leftists will support the move. Certain centrists, including the Legal Affairs Committee’s chairman, Volodymyr Stretovich, and even several individual Rukh deputies supported the committee’s resolution. Rukh chairman Vyacheslav Chornovil came out against impeachment.
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