KIEV, May 30 – Ukraine appeared headed for another political crisis after the Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday to postpone the next Kiev mayoral vote for two years until October 2015, after the next presidential election in March 2015.
The ruling means that important Kiev infrastructure will be controlled by an appointee of incumbent Preident Viktor Yanukovych, minimizing the risk of a popular uprising in the city should the election be contested.
Serhiy Vynokurov, a deputy chairman of the Constitutional Court, in a prepared statement said that the ruling was aimed at making the frequency of elections “reasonable.”
“The frequency of elections to state and local governments should be reasonable, with the aim of optimality, continuity and stability in the formation of representative bodies,” Vynokurov said.
The Kiev mayoral election will now have to be held at the same time as the city council election, while current city council lawmakers will have their term in office effectively extended to seven years from five years.
Vynokurov said that extension of the term in office of local government is a “temporary measure aimed at implementing mechanism of simultaneous elections.” He said the ruling “does not prevent the exercise of the constitutional right of citizens to participate in public affairs.”
After reading the statement, Vynokurov left, cancelling a press conference.
The ruling triggered a outcry from the opposition parties, which called for criminal prosecution of judges of the Constitutional Court for helping Yanukovych to usurp power.
“The ruling by the pocket court of President Yanukovych was motivated only by one thing – the fear of losing the Kiev vote,” Arseniy Yatseniuk, the leader of the opposition Batkivshchyna party, said.
He said Yanukovych needs a loyalist in charge of Kiev because there will be no peaceful transfer of power should Yanukovych lose the next presidential election in March 2015. “He knows he will lose that election,” Yatseniuk said.
Opposition groups, which have strong popular support in Kiev, have been seeking to schedule the Kiev mayor vote for June 2, but the bill was defeated by the ruling Regions Party.
The disagreement over the Kiev mayor vote has led to a political crisis in March with opposition parties blocking the work of Parliament for days in protest.
Opposition groups on Thursday called on Kiev residents to join a rally in front of the Kiev city council on June 2 to demand that city lawmakers resign.
“The power of the council ends on June 2,” Yegor Sobolev, a Kiev activist, said. “Only people can give council lawmakers the right to represent them. The people did not give them this right, so the lawmakers must go.”
Andriy Illiyenko, a member of the opposition Svoboda party, said the high turnout in June will force the ruling party to change its mind.
“This is the only way to prove that we are citizens that will not tolerate disrespectful attitude,” Illiyenko said. “Kievans have the right to election its own, people’s government.”
Opposition groups already submitted a bill to Parliament that schedules the next Kiev mayor vote on October 27, but the bill is likely to be defeated by the Regions Party.
The Regions Party is expected to submit its own bill that will comply with the Constitutional Court ruling, Volodymyr Makeyenko, a member of the party, said without disclosing any other details.
He said the current Kiev council lawmakers will continue their term in office until new lawmakers are elected in October 2015. “We still have enough time,” he said. (tl/ez)