[JURIST] BBC News is reporting that the Ukrainian parliament has passed reform measures to eliminate fraud from the re-run of the presidential vote later this month, and to weaken the president's powers.
9:15 AM ET – More details are now available here. According to the BBC, the reforms include:
- Reforming the Central Election Commission, dismissing the chairman and some other members
- Changes designed to reduce possibility of ballot fraud, such as limiting the use of absentee ballots and home voting
- Reduced powers for the president who may now only appoint the prime minister, defence and foreign minister, subject to legislators' approval
- New functions for the regions, designed to ease tensions between the pro-Yushchenko west and pro-Yanukovych east
The package was approved by 402 of the parliament's 450 members. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, in the parliament at the time, immediately signed the approved legislation into law.
In related developments from Ukraine Wednesday, opposition politicians are now threatening to impeach President Kuchma if he does not dismiss the government of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, voted down by the parliament last week. Meanwhile, the Times of London reports that doctors in Vienna have confirmed that opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko was deliberately poisoned during the election campaign by a life-threatening substance that caused his usually-youthful face to break out in cysts and lesions, making him look old and sick. Yushchenko originally took sick on September 6, and was later rushed to the Austrian clinic where it was found that his liver, pancreas and intestines were swollen and his digestive tract covered in ulcers, althouhg the cause of his problems was not immediately diagnosed. The Times has more.