Ukraine constitutional court expands presidential powers News
Ukraine constitutional court expands presidential powers
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[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of Ukraine [official website] ruled Friday that a 2004 law that transferred powers from the presidency to parliament was unconstitutional, ordering the powers be restored to the president. The ruling invalidates the reforms [AP report] passed at the height of the Orange revolution [BBC timeline] and strengthens the presidency now held by pro-Moscow leader Viktor Yanukovych [official website, in Ukrainian; BBC profile], elected in February. The court ordered the country to revert immediately back to the 1996 constitution. The 2004 reforms had placed more a parliamentary republic. The president now will have the right to choose his own government [Reuters report], including having sole power to appoint cabinet members and the prime minister. On his official website, Yanukovych said [statement, in Ukrainian] the court’s decision was not surprising and vowed to enforce it:

Ukraine and society tired of living in those conditions that are dictated to us the changes to the Constitution of 2004. Because these changes were made hastily, in general the political moment, the reasons were clear conflicts in authority. … As guarantor of the constitution, I will take this decision, as would execute any other.

Opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko criticized the court’s decision, calling it a move away from democracy and urging new presidential and parliamentary elections.

In February, Tymoshenko withdrew a lawsuit [JURIST reports] filed in the Supreme Administrative Court of Ukraine claiming that the country’s presidential election was corrupt. Tymoshenko dropped the suit claiming she would not receive a fair hearing in the court. The constitutional reforms were originally passed during the protests of 2004, known as the Orange Revolution in which Yanukovych lost to Viktor Yushchenko [BBC profile] in the controversial 2004 presidential election [JURIST report], the results of which were invalidated by the country’s Supreme Court [JURIST report] following fraud allegations. Yushchenko was sworn in as president [JURIST report] in January 2005 after winning a re-vote. Yushchenko reluctantly accepted Yanukovych as prime minister last June and the two have since clashed over parliamentary attempts to expand the cabinet’s power [JURIST reports] at the expense of the presidency.