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EU Worried About Ukrainian Moves To Amend Constitution

Kyiv, 30 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The European Union today expressed concern about a campaign in Ukraine to amend the constitution which would pave the way for President Leonid Kuchma to stay in power past his second term.

The EU said in a statement that while it recognized Ukraine's sovereign right to change its constitutional framework, the proposed reforms could have a negative impact on the confidence of voters, particularly in an election year.

Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, last month passed on first reading a bill that would allow the president to be elected by deputies instead of through a popular vote. The amended constitution would come into effect in 2006.

Ukraine's Constitutional Court then cleared Kuchma to run for a third term in the October presidential election.

The EU statement said, "a constitutional change must draw its legitimacy from real popular support for its objectiveness."