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Ukraine's President Seeks to Revise Constitution


Ukraine's president, Viktor Yushchenko, says he wants to change the constitution in a bid to restore his presidential powers. The announcement comes as the country prepares for elections in September aimed at ending a power struggle between him and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich. Stefan Bos reports for VOA from Budapest.

President Yushchenko announced plans to revise the constitution at a ceremony marking the 16th anniversary of Ukraine's declaration of independence from the former Soviet Union.

Speaking in front of Kyiv's Saint Sofia Cathedral, he said the changes could be introduced after an election on September 30.

Parliament three years ago adopted legislation transferring significant powers from the president to the prime minister. This led to a stalemate between Mr. Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

The two sides agreed to hold the September 30 election in a bid to resolve the impasse.

Mr. Yushchenko says changes are needed in the constitution to restore his presidential powers and end the deadlock with Mr. Yanukovich, who favors closer ties with Russia.

The president says he hopes his actions will boost efforts to introduce Western-style reforms, including closer ties with NATO and the European Union, as well as bring an end to what he sees as high-level corruption.

"Political experiments led to an avalanche of corruption and the destruction of the minds of this and much younger generations," said Mr. Yushchenko. "This year's early election is my very straight forward reaction on a plot against Ukraine launched by corrupt politicians. I know how to make order in our Ukrainian house. We are starting the renewal of the constitution, and I am calling for the convening of a constitutional council that will start to write down the draft of a new constitution."

The president said the revisions will be presented to citizens for approval in a nationwide referendum.

The September 30 elections for parliament mark the fourth time in less than three years that Ukrainians will be voting in a national election. Polls show Prime Minister Yanukovich's Regions Party slightly ahead of parties allied with President Yushchenko.

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