Ukraine president signs amendments to Donbass 'self-rule' law

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed into law a bill amending Article 10 of Ukraine's law granting special 'self-rule' status to certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

"The law, which was passed by the Verkhovna Rada yesterday, is aimed at normalizing the social and political situation and restoring the proper functioning of local governance bodies in the aforementioned territories by holding snap elections of the legislative councils in districts, cities, city districts and villages, as well as the heads of villages and cities," according to a report, which was published on the Ukrainian president's website on Wednesday evening.

From now on, Article 10 of the law will include Points 4 and 5, which regulate the enactment of certain parts of the document.

"In particular, Point 4 says that Articles 2-9 of the aforementioned law will come into force when local self-governance bodies to be elected at the snap polls in certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are vested with power," the report says.

The document also demands that the upcoming elections must abide by the constitution of Ukraine and other Ukrainian laws, must be general, equal, free and transparent and must meet all international democratic standards, according to the report.

The election campaign in these districts ought to obey the electoral standards of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

"Unbiased international observers, including from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and other international organizations and foreign states, as well as other official observers should be allowed to monitor these elections. A safe environment should be created for them and their work," it says.

The document also demands the withdrawal of all illegal armed units, military hardware, as well as 'militants and mercenaries' from the territory of Ukraine in order to prevent their illegal interference in the electoral process.

"The elections must follow the principles of political pluralism and the multiplicity of parties, accompanied by a level playing field for all participants in the electoral process," it says.

All candidates running in the polls should be given equal access to the media. Ukraine pledged to resume the operations of its television and radio companies, as well as print media in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

"The voting process should have guarantees of citizens' freedom of expression and secret ballot procedure. The electoral rights of all internally displaced persons who were forced to leave their homes in certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions must be observed," the document says.

The law also demands the transparency of the vote counting process.

Point 5 of the law says that only self-governance bodies to be elected in the upcoming polls in accordance with the Ukrainian constitution and laws will be able to benefit from the special 'self-rule' status granted to certain parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The law comes into force the day after its official publication.

Read more: Press Digest: Ukrainian parliament ties Donbass self-governance to end of occupation

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