March 25, 2014
A Critical Step toward Bolstering the Civil Society, Democratic Renewal and Liberalization of the Legislation
The Legislative Chamber, in accordance with its Rules of Procedure, has initiated discussion of draft amendments and addenda to certain articles of the Constitution (articles32, 78, 93, 98,103 and 117), offered by President Islam Karimov.

Yesterday the bill was considered at the plenary session of the Legislative Chamber in the first reading. The report of the Committee on Legislation and Legal Affairs, responsible for preparing the bill for consideration, noted that the changes made to the Constitution are aimed at significant deepening of the ongoing constitutional reforms for further expansion of the rights and powers of the parliament, increasing the responsibility of the Cabinet of Ministers, general executive bodies, public and parliamentary oversight over the activities of public authorities. In addition, the changes, providing for the transfer of some powers of the President to the Prime Minister, clarification of the procedure of presentation and approval of Prime Minister to the both houses of parliament are aimed at further enhancing the independence and accountability of the executive power. Thus, a new provision in the Constitution stating that the candidate for the Prime Minister presents to Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan a program of action of the Cabinet for immediate and long-term. This will be of great importance for the further strengthening of the parliamentary and inter-party competition, which is the most important component of a democratic society.

During the debates, representatives of factions of political parties and the Ecology Movement commented on the bill.

It was also noted that the most important innovation of the draft law concerns the implementation of the Concept of intensifying the democratic reforms and developing civil society in the country in the field of democratization of state power and administration: a more balanced distribution of powers between the President, the legislative and the executive. It is provided for higher responsibility of the Cabinet of Ministers for the implementation of socio-economic policy, the measures for the protection of economic, social and other rights and legitimate interests of citizens, coordination and direction of the work of public and economic management, control over their activities.

Members of the faction of the People\'s Democratic Party of Uzbekistan stressed that the amendments introduced in the Constitution significantly increase the responsibility of the government, executive authorities on the ground for the implementation of the socio-economic development of the country. In particular, the changes increase significantly the parliamentary oversight in the process of review and approval of candidates for the Prime Minister.

The clarification to the Constitution binds the governor of the region, district and the city to deliver reports to the relevant councils of people\'s representatives on important and topical issues of socio-economic development of the region, district, city. On this basis the councils take appropriate decisions. This provision will strengthen the parliamentary oversight in the field.

This dramatically strengthens the role of political parties in mapping out the specific priorities of socio¬political and economic development, their participation in the most important tasks of reforming and modernizing the country. All this will contribute to improving the implementation of socio-economic development of the regions, to ensuring the interests of socially vulnerable groups, to rational solution of social problems in the field, with a maximum use of parliamentary oversight.

According to members of Democratic Party Milliy Tiklanish, the consistent and gradual implementation of essential democratic reforms for the formation of national statehood, strengthening the importance and role of parliament in the state and the political system, implemented on the basis of the Uzbek Model of reforms, lays a solid foundation for the occurrence of Uzbekistan among developed democratic countries.

Strengthening of parliamentary oversight is essential in making Oliy Majlis a conductor of democratic reforms, while constitutional recognition of the norm establishing the government\'s responsibility for the national programs for the development of science, culture, education, health and other sectors of the economy and the social sphere, allows for more effective protection of the interests of the party\'s electorate.

Members of the Social Democratic Party Adolat emphasized the constitutional amendment, which establishes that the President may suspend or revoke the acts of government bodies and governors only in the case of non-compliance of the norms of law, will ensure rule of the Constitution and the law. Thereby, this provision simultaneously increases the responsibility of these bodies and officials for their decisions, especially those affecting the vital interests of the population.

As the faction members say, the provisions of the bill fixing democratic mechanisms of the Central Election Commission and its basic, which are independence, legality, collegiality, openness and fairness, will also provide guarantees of citizens\' rights to elect and be elected to representative bodies.

Representatives of the parliamentary group of the Ecology Movement stressed the great importance of the proposed changes and additions to the Constitution and current legislation for increasing the role and importance of civic institutions in addressing pressing challenges of sustainable development, achieving Uzbekistan national Millennium Development Goals, environmental protection, environmental resource management and public health. The bill also creates a strong legal basis for the development, implementation and further improvement of effective mechanisms for environmental control.

In general, parliamentarians noted the importance of the initiatives put forward by the head of state to further the political and constitutional development of Uzbekistan, strengthen the role of the legislature in the state and the political system. The law will become an important factor for further implementation of the fundamental principle of our country, which says: \'from a strong state to a strong civil society\'. The institute of public scrutiny enshrined in the Constitution is of paramount importance in ensuring the direct participation of citizens in the affairs of society and the state, creating favorable conditions for the development of small business and entrepreneurship, farming, protecting private property and property rights, increasing the role and importance of representative parliamentary bodies, strengthening their capacities in addressing socio-economic development challenges.

Following the discussion, MPs unanimously endorsed the draft bill and approved the first reading.

(Source: newspaper “Uzbekistan Today”)


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