Civil Network OPORA calls on the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, leaders of parliamentary factions and groups to consider the issue of dismissal and appointment of new members of the CEC on an urgent basis, that is, no later than during the next plenary session scheduled for the upcoming week.

Verkhovna Rada is yet to formulate an official position on candidates for CEC members who were submitted for parliamentary consideration and approval by the President of Ukraine on February 8, 2018. Inaction of Verkhovna Rada with regard to renewal of the CEC by way of refraining from adopting any decision on this issue gives evidence of institutional weakness of parliament and poses risks to the prospects for proper organization of 2019 national elections. Parliament’s inability to appoint new members of the CEC in a lawful manner not only undermines current activities of this commission, but also reduces the chances of proper and proactive work in the run-up to future electoral campaigns. By doing so, parliament brings discredit upon itself and demonstrates its political inability to formulate and institutionalize a decision.

Attempts to delay the process of considering the issue of renewal of the CEC prior to upcoming presidential election or even lay the groundwork for holding 2019 presidential election by efforts of current members of this commission poses a direct threat to the legitimacy of future electoral process. The CEC comprising members with long-expired term of office will be an easy target for manipulation at the hands of political groups competing for the position of highest-level leader. Such a situation could potentially lead to destabilization of electoral process and escalation of confrontation between presidential candidates, especially at the stage of vote tabulation and certification of election results. Conduct of key national elections with the participation of current composition of the CEC shouldn’t even be considered as an option by politicians and statesmen having any sense of responsibility.

Hereby, we would like to emphasize that statements made by certain politicians with regard to the ongoing negotiations can no longer serve as excuse for long-term inaction. International and local organizations who have been closely monitoring this process are firmly convinced that there is no good reason for such a lengthy process of finalization and approval of candidates nominated for the positions of CEC members. President of Ukraine, parliamentary factions and groups had all the time in the world for holding consultations, and now it’s time to move on to adoption of official decisions. Under such circumstances, all responsible parties bear unnecessary reputational losses in equal measures and undermine their credibility in the eyes of society and committed partners. The unproductive period of backchannel negotiations and recriminations should culminate in parliamentary consideration and voting on this issue.

We call on stakeholders to do the following:

Leaders of parliamentary factions and groups

● to hold official consultations on consideration of submissions for the dismissal and appointment of new members of the CEC and fix the date for parliamentary voting on corresponding issues during the period from June 25 to July 2.

Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine

● to adopt a decision by way of parliamentary voting on President’s submissions for dismissal and appointment of new members of the CEC during the next plenary session scheduled for the upcoming week (July 3-6 ).

The result of parliamentary voting will serve as a public demonstration of discordance or identity of positions of people’s deputies of Ukraine representing each parliamentary faction and group on the issue of appointment of new members of the CEC. This won’t only lay the groundwork for rotation of members of Central election commission, but will also break the vicious circle of backchannel negotiations and prevent political leaders from escaping public responsibility for inaction in the matter of delayed appointment of CEC members.

Whatever the outcome of parliamentary voting might be, it will force the power entities to step out of their comfort zone and arrive at a final decision on the basis of broad parliamentary consensus. The concept of avoiding any decisions is a way to deepen CEC crisis and increase the likelihood of involvement of illegitimate CEC members in the process of organization of elections.

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