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The President of Turkmenistan: New legal body to paly important role in democratization of society

29 January, 2020

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov held regular session of the Constitutional Commission, which was established by the resolution of the People’s Council last autumn, for development and compilation of proposals related to amendments and addendums of the Constitution of Turkmenistan.

Addressing the participants, the Head of the State noted that as is known, it was announced on new stage of constitutional reforms and initiative on improvement of the Main Law of the country was proposed at the session of national forum on September 25, 2019.

The goal of the initiative is in improvement of activity of the People’s Council and formation of two chamber system of legal body taking into account the success achieved in our society and world practice.

Establishment of the Constitutional Commission and its composition were endorsed by relative documents, the President continued. Two sessions of the Commission on October 4 and December 4 last year have been held for the past period.

Having highlighted that working on the project, the Mejlis was in close collaboration with the Cabinet of Ministers, relative ministries and departments, the President noted efficient work for collection and preliminary analysis of proposals and ideas received from the citizens of the country, political parties as well as public organizations and local authorities. The Draft Constitutional Law on Amendments and Addendums of the Constitution of Turkmenistan has been developed in the result of this work.

Further, the President noted that taking into account the work that was carried out, the main subjects related to improvement of the Main Law of the country would be discussed at the current session. It is proposed to review the above-mentioned preliminary Draft Constitutional Law at the current session. It was developed based on the set objectives and following received proposals.

After, the Head of the State gave floor to members of the Constitutional Commission for relative reports.

Vice Speaker of the Mejlis, Chairman of the Working Group under the Constitutional Commission K. Babayev highlighted that constitutional reforms are aimed at improvement of activity of the government power authorities for serving to the nation and building of powerful state.

Proposals received to the Working Group of the Mejlis from the government and public organizations as well as from the citizens of the country have been analysed and summed up. Draft Constitutional Law on Amendments and Addendums of the Constitution of Turkmenistan has been developed after relative discussion.

It was also informed that planned events for discussion of received proposals have been held for explanation of the importance of objectives followed from the speech of Turkmen leader about improvement of the Main Law at the session of the People’s Council to Turkmenistan citizens.

Number of sessions, meetings and other events have been organized all around the country with participation of representatives of cities and towns, public organizations, local authorities, scientific and educational institutes.

The spokesperson noted that National Parliament consisting of two chambers has been defined as representative body of legislative power and work for articulation of their legal status and authorities has been carried out in proper order after analysis and compilation of received proposals.

In this regard, the Vice Speaker of the Mejlis, the Chairman of the Working Group under the Constitutional Commission has informed about activity for amendments related to the election of new Chamber. For equal representation of all regions in new Chamber, this has been carried out following actively used world practice.

In the end of his report, K. Babayev highlighted that targeted work for improvement of the Constitution of Turkmenistan would be continued.

Hyakim of Lebap Velayat T. Atahalliyev was the next to speak. It has been mentioned that current constitutional reforms support successful realization of progressive policy of the Head of Turkmenistan for comprehensive strengthening of national legal and regulatory framework, democratic principles in the government administration.

Activities for improvement of the Main Law in the region are distinguished with active participation of the citizens. Personnel of administration, deputies of the Mejlis, members of political parties and public organizations organize sessions and meetings for explanation and popularization of reforms expanded in this sphere in the cities, towns and etraps.

After, the floor was given to Director of the Institute of the State, Law and Democracy of Turkmenistan Ya. Nurieyv. It was mentioned that it is planned to change Turkmen Parliament to two chamber system, having improved legal status of the People’s Council, by initiative of the Head of the State. This is reasonable from the point of view of modern realities and steadfast processes of democratization in Turkmen society, improvement of efficiency of law-making activity, establishment of closer contacts between deputies and electorate on the sites, enforcement of control of execution of laws and national programmes.

The session was continued with the speech of Chairman of the Supreme Court G. Halliyev who highlighted the importance and significance of the initiative on transfer of legislative authority of the country to new two chamber system.

Work Group has been established in judicial bodies for provision of high organizational level of work for development and compilation of proposals on improvement of the Constitution. Proposal received from the courts are reviewed in details. Advanced practice in the sphere of two- chamber legislative system has also been studied.

It was mentioned that provisions of the Chapter 3 of existing Constitution of Turkmenistan has been amended in proposed draft. It is outlined that legislative body consists of two chambers, in which provisions historical experience has been taken into account together with modern world practice.

The draft includes modern provisions. Opportunity to hold separate and joint sessions of the chambers of legislative body for discussion of current subjects of the government and social life is provided. In this context, the Chairman of the Supreme Court of Turkmenistan spoke on full approval of the Constitutional Law on Amendments and Addendums of the Constitution of Turkmenistan, which takes into account special features of primordial traditions of Turkmen people.

After, the floor was given to Speaker of the Mejlis G. Mammedova who noted that provisions of presented draft Law on Amendments and Addendums of the Constitution of Turkmenistan have been discussed in details at the sessions of the special Working Group under the Mejlis. Standards of international Law, positive world practice, features of national legislation as well as proposals, remarks and recommendations have been taken into account during development of this document.

Transfer to two chamber legislative system, improvement of legal status of the People’s Council are very important for further improvement of democratic, legal and temporal bases of the state and civil society.

Summing up the information and addressing the participants of the session, the Head of the State noted that the main goal of current session is in preliminary discussion of the Draft Constitutional Law n Amendments and Addendums of the Constitution of Turkmenistan.

The Draft has been developed under the measures for restructuring of legislative body of the country, expansion of its authorities and further improvement of its activity. It will support better efficiency of the Constitution, having given the opportunity for successful solution of objectives for legal provision of comprehensive development of society and the state, the President said.

The main objective is to improve the role and expansion of the authorities of the Parliament of independent country, democratization of all sides of our life, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov highlighted. Therefore, it is pleasant to note that the above-mentioned initiatives have been reflected in specific legal act, namely in the Constitutional Law of Turkmenistan. It is aimed at strengthening and steadfast improvement of constitutional order of the state. After nation-wide discussion of this Law, it is planned to propose it to be reviewed at the next session of the People’s Council.

The Head of the State continued that it could be stated with confidence that adoption of this Law would be historical and unforgettable event for the country and nation, new and important stage in the Constitutional construction of our sovereign state, having highlighted the triumph of democratic principles in the government administration.

The President stated with delight that the Constitutional Commission, Mejlis, Cabinet of Ministers, relative ministries and department, political parties, public organizations and government authorities together with the citizens of the country have done necessary work for accounting of proposals on improvement of the Main Law for the short period.

Numerous proposals on amendments and addendums of the Constitution of Turkmenistan have come to the working groups in National Parliament and other government authorities from different establishments, organizations and citizens. This initiative has also been approved at the different meetings.

All of this indicates full support by the people of the initiative on transfer of national representative legislative body of the state power to new two chamber system, the President of Turkmenistan said.

The received proposals are analysed by the Working Group, which composition includes deputies of the Mejlis, scientists, representatives of ministries and profile departments, political parties, big public associations as well as experienced specialists. It creates specific conditions and opportunities for reflection of amendments and addendums, which would be introduced to the Constitution of the country, in legal acts, which would be introduced to the Constitution of the country, the Head of the State noted.

Study of positive international practice in this sphere and definition of provisions planned to be introduced into the Main Law in the form of legal acts fully meet democratic standards of our nation, which is counted by centuries. Speaking of this, the President highlighted specific provisions, which would be introduced to the Constitution of the country.

Thus, according to numerous proposals, the initiative on merging of the People’s Council and the Mejlis into single system of two-chamber body of representative legislative power has found big support. Therefore, the document brought out for review of the participants of the session proposes to exclude Article 61 from the Constitution of Turkmenistan.

According to the proposals coming to the Commission and taking into account practice of the countries with two-chamber parliament, the Head of Turkmenistan stated the appropriateness to name National Parliament as National Council of Turkmenistan, its legislative chamber as the Mejlis and representative chamber as the People’s Council.

Continuing the subject, Turkmen leader noted that it would be right to follow scientifically based analysis of proposals received from the citizens and international practice during formation of the structure of the People’s Council. In this context, the President spoke for the relevance to set total number of members of the People’s Council of Turkmenistan to the amount of 56 people.

In addition, that for provision of interests of the state and society it is necessary to outline in the Main Law that 8 people from each velayat and Ashgabat equally are elected to the composition of the People’s Council by secret voting at relative sessions of velayat and capital People’s Councils.

At the same time, the Head of the State noted that it would be correct to point out that the President of Turkmenistan is entitled to appoint 8 members to this structures from the citizens with rich life experience, having big authority and special merits in different directions of the state and social activity.

Such order will be important in expansion of authorities and enhancement of the prestige of the People’s Councils of velayats and Ashgabat, strengthening of their role in Turkmen society as competent local representative authorities, which are entitled to for the composition of the People’s Council, the President highlighted.

The Head of the state has also noted that appointment of certain part of members of the People’s Council by the President of Turkmenistan will enrich such democratic principles of our nation as justice, equality and humanity in new substantive aspect.

At the same time, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov stated that following relative principle, which was formed up by our ancestors in the governing of society, for election and appointment of people with rich life and work experience, it is relevant to point out in the Draft Constitution that citizen of Turkmenistan who reached 30 years old with high education and permanently lives in the country in the last ten years is entitled to be elected and appointed as a member of the People’s Council for 5 year period.

With regard to the Mejlis, the Head of the State noted that based on positive practice gained by this body in organization of legal-making activity in the country, it would be reasonable to leave unchanged the existing constitutional provisions on member of deputies and terms of their office, which is 5 years according to existing legislation of Turkmenistan.

It will also comply with recognized positive practice of elections of deputies and with election legislation. At the same time, it is proposed to include the provision on non-admission of the same person to be elected and work in both chambers of National Parliament. It will be very important for provision of democratic initiative and social justice in the country.

Addressing the members of the Constitutional Commission, the Head of the State also spoke about relevance of introduction of the provision of separate sessions of the chambers into the Constitution of Turkmenistan.

The exclusion is allowed in the case when the President of Turkmenistan makes annual address speech to Turkmen nation and Parliament about the situation in the country, priority directions of home and foreign policy as well as when the leaders of foreign states makes speech in the Parliament. In such case, joint sessions are allowed.

According to the practice of numerous countries if the President of the country is not able to carry out his duties by some reason, as a rule, his authorities are assumed by the Chairman of the representative chamber of the Parliament.

In this context, the Head of Turkmenistan stated that following similar positive international practice, it would be correct to set out in the Main Law that authorities of the President are assumed by the Chairperson of the People’s Council in the above-mentioned case.

The Head of the State has also spoken for the relevance to point out that the Chairman of the Supreme Court of Turkmenistan, the Prosecutor General, Ministers of Interior and Justice are appointed to and released from their posts by the President of Turkmenistan upon approval of the People’s Council.

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted that according to positive international practice and acquired law-making experience in the country, the following authorities of the People’s Council are proposed to laid out in the Draft Main Law:

- To approve or refuse in approval of the Constitution, Constitutional and other laws adopted by the Mejlis;

- To review the Law of Turkmenistan on the State Budget of the country adopted by the Mejlis;

- To solve the subjects of national referendums;

- To review the subjects of appointment to and release from the post of the Chairman of the Supreme Court, the Prosecutor General, the Minister of Interior, the Ministers of Justice by the proposal of the President of Turkmenistan;

- To confer the President of Turkmenistan with the state awards to assign him military and other state ranks;

- To solve the subject of change of the State border of Turkmenistan;

- To review the subjects of peace and security;

- To solve other subjects related to the authorities of the People’s Council by the Constitution and laws.

Speaking of the authorities of the Mejlis, the Head of the State spoke for the necessity to enter the following into the list of these authorities:

- To review and adopt Draft Constitution, constitutional and other laws, to control execution of adopted laws and provision of their official explanation;

- To review the subject of approval of the programme of activity of the Cabinet of Ministers;

- To review the subject of approval of the State Budget and report on its execution;

- To review priority directions of home and foreign policy of the state as well as programmes of political, economic, social and cultural development of the country;

- To appoint elections of the President of Turkmenistan, deputies of the Mejlis, members of the People’s Council and Gengeshys;

- To elect authorised representative on human rights in the country by the proposal of the President of Turkmenistan;

- To institute the state awards;

- To approve and cancel international agreements;

- To solve the subject of administrative and territorial division of Turkmenistan;

- To determine the compliance of the regulatory and legal acts of the government authorities with the Constitution;

- To solve other subjects related to the authorities of the Mejlis by the Constitution and laws;

Continuing the session, the President also noted importance of objectives of the Constitutional Commission in clear definition of the order of adoption of laws in the Constitution of Turkmenistan.

According to coming proposals and taking into account international practice, it would be relevant to outline in the Main Law that the right for legislative initiative is related to the President of Turkmenistan, members of the People’s Council, deputies of the Mejlis, Cabinet of Ministers and Supreme Court, the Head of the State said.

It will be also relevant to introduce the provision that laws adopted by the Mejlis have to be sent to the People’s Council for review and approval. It will provide enhancement of importance of this structure following that laws adopted by the Mejlis are reviewed from the point of view of definition of the state interests above all.

Shall the law is approved by more than half of the votes of the People’s Council, this law is send to the President of Turkmenistan for signature.

The Head of the State has also expressed his opinion that it would be relevant to introduce the provision to the Constitution that the law, which has not been approved by the People’s Council, would be reviewed again by the Mejlis as well as if its adopted in the previous revision by no less than two thirds of the votes from total number of deputies, this law deemed to be adopted.

Such provision seems to be relevant form coordinated operation of two chambers point of view, the President highlighted.

Having noted again that Turkmen people takes active part and provides support in work in this sphere, the Head of the State proposed to publish the Constitutional Law on Amendments and Addendums of the Constitution of Turkmenistan in mass media in February for full and comprehensive consideration of public opinion and nation-wide discussion.

Due to transfer to new two0chamber structure of the Parliament, the amendments and addendums of the Constitution would be important historical event in social and political life of the country, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov highlighted.

Taking into account the adoption of new Draft Constitution, it is necessary to analyse existing laws and make relative amendments, the Head of the State said, having noted that this work has to be carried by the Working Group of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan in set order.

Actively participating in this process, Turkmen society express big interest to reformation of the system of legislative power. Therefore, we have to achieve that not a single initiative of our people would be left without attention and people have to leave knowing that their opinion is important, the President highlighted.

It is necessary to continue propaganda, education and explanatory work with participation of deputies of the Mejlis, scientists and relative specialists highlighting these subjects in mass media in necessary cases.

Reformation of the Parliament of the country will give opportunity to represent all levels of Turkmen society, solve standing issues of time, significantly improve the provision for development and application of laws. New legislative body would play important role in democratization of the state and social life, full assertion of the principles of social justice, Turkmen leader said.

The draft discussed at the session takes into account all proposals received from working groups established at the ministries, departments and scientific institutes, public organizations and citizens. In this regard, the President again proposed to publish the Law of Turkmenistan on Amendments and Addendums of the Constitution of Turkmenistan in media for nation-wide discussion.

It is necessary to study thoroughly all proposals, which would come after the publication of the draft and to continue working on development of the final draft of the above-mentioned law, which would be brought out for review at the coming session of the People’s Council.

Speaking of this, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov ordered the Mejlis to develop its final version after national discussion for review at the session of the Constitutional Commission, which would be held in June.

It is also necessary to continue having meetings with public on sites with participation of representatives of political parties and public associations, relative specialists of ministries, profile and scientific departments.

In general, it is necessary to inform the people about work for improvement of the Constitution of independent neutral state, Turkmen leader noted, having expressed confidence that members of the Constitutional Commission and Working Group of the Mejlis would continue working together and would fulfil their objectives for development of final draft of this law with honour.

Finishing regular session of the Constitution Commission at this point, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov wished big success in work to the participants.