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Parliament Activity Review March 17-21, 2003
March 24, 2003
Last week was marked by several extremely important events. The first one, was the decision of the Foreign Affairs Department of the breakaway Transdnistrian Republic to declare the leadership of the Republic of Moldova, as well as several heads of departments as persona non grata. The style of the notification was rather tendentious and even ironic, as it restated almost the entire the notification of the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting Transdnistrian leaders to be banned from entering EU. Furthermore, Tiraspol leader stated that in case President Voronin sends an official letter, he would allow him to attend the football match scheduled on April 2 and would guarantee his security.
One may say that the negotiation process wouldn't be as easy as outlined in President Voronin's plan. Although several European organizations back up Moldovan authorities, the key decision-makers, i.e. Russia and Ukraine refrain from undertaking any measures in this respect, even if officially they make statements regretting Tiraspol's stance.
On the other hand, the Parliament adopted some very important decisions. Firstly, the Law on Local Public Administration and Parliament Resolution on establishing the election date for May 25, 2003. Secondly, the Parliament passed the much-debated Law on Pre-shipment Inspection. Below is an outline of the most important legal acts passed by the Parliament.
I. Law on Local Public Administration, new wording.
ADEPT comment: The law was adopted in the final reading without any debates despite the very controversial public discussions. Upon the adoption of the law it was announced that it complies with Council of Europe recommendations, especially with regard to financial autonomy, delimitation of responsibilities between the central and local power, as well as administrative control over local government.
Adoption of the said law allowed for establishing the date of general local elections, namely May 23, 2003. It is worth mentioning that according to the Electoral Code:
- Central Electoral Commission shall establish electoral constituencies corresponding to the second level administrative-territorial units at least 55 days prior to elections, and district electoral councils 50 days prior to elections. Within 4 days of establishment, district electoral councils shall make public their membership, address, and contact details;
- In view of the elections of local councils and mayor, each rayon, special status administrative-territorial unit, city (municipality), village (commune) shall be viewed as single constituency. City (municipal), village (commune) electoral constituencies shall be established by the district electoral councils at least 45 days prior to election day. City (municipal), village (communal) electoral councils are established by the district electoral councils of the second-level administrative-territorial units 40 days prior to election day.
- Electoral councils for the election of local councils and mayors shall be divided into precincts, and electoral bureaus shall be formed for each of them.
Electoral campaign for each individual contestant shall commence on the date of his/her registration with the Central Electoral Commission or district electoral councils and shall end on the date of his/her elimination from the race or on election day.
II. Law on Pre-shipment Inspection.
ADEPT comment: The final version of the law includes two provisions, previously viewed as being unacceptable by representatives of international monetary organizations. Under the law, two companies entitled to conduct pre-shipment inspection shall be selected based on a tender, whereas the list of goods due to be inspected shall be approved by the Parliament.
Although last week IMF mission stated it would insist on the original draft, Moldovan legislator decided to ignore them, thus endangering the disbursement of further tranches. If authorities fail to convince IMF on the rightness of the draft adopted by the Parliament, then most likely the President would not promulgate the law and would send it for the reexamination together with IMF recommendations. And this because disbursement of further tranches is a key condition for resuming the negotiations with the Paris Club. However if authorities fail to convince international monetary organizations, they might end up under the backfire of the domestic business, which is very much against pre-shipment inspection and even threatened to stage protest rallies.
III. Law on modification and completion of the Law on Deputy Status.
ADEPT comment: Under the modifications approved, the provisions allowing for the deputy mandate to be lifted upon a court sentence or incompatibility were excluded. Noteworthy, Council of Europe experts insisted on the said provisions in order to bring Moldovan law in line with European standards.
IV. Law on the modification of the Law on Firearms.
ADEPT comment: The law prohibits issuing the license on holding firearm to individuals with previous penal records, as well as to individuals who committed an offence or crime by using firearm, explosives or toxic materials. It is worth mentioning that Parliament Resolution no. 1603 of March 17, 1998 allowed natural entities to posses firearms. The same resolution granted pardon to all persons who legalized the arms in their possession. The impact of the 1998 resolution was never made public, however we may conclude that the initiative failed. An illustration to this effect is the recent amendments to the law.