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Ukraine: Opposition Blocks Debate On Constitution Changes

Kyiv, 23 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- In a rowdy session, Ukrainian opposition lawmakers have blocked debate on changes to the constitution that would allow parliament, rather than voters, to choose the country's next president. Deputies from three opposition parties sang the national anthem and folk songs to prevent parliament from debating the changes put forward by President Leonid Kuchma's allies.

The opposition says the proposals may be a way for Kuchma to extend his tenure or to have a loyalist succeed him after the end, in October, of his maximum two terms in office.

The opposition has proposed its own amendments that would preserve the popular vote for president but change the way parliament is elected.