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Ukraine: Kuchma To Withdraw Controversial Changes To Constitution

Kyiv, 15 July 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma says he has decided to withdraw controversial proposals to alter the constitution. Kuchma's proposals had called for both parliamentary and presidential polls to be held at the same time in 2006. But opposition lawmakers say they were a crude attempt to prolong Kuchma's rule beyond a presidential election next year.

Kuchma said today he made the decision in order to remove a stumbling block to reform.

The proposals have provoked heated debate in the parliament, where opposition and pro-government lawmakers have even exchanged blows over the issue.