KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine’s ruling party on Tuesday passed legislation that allows a sitting president to be impeached if they break the law, acting on an election pledge by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on the campaign trail this year.
A former comedian who had no political experience before running for president, Zelenskiy has vowed to clean up Ukrainian politics and tackle entrenched corruption.
The impeachment legislation aims to make the president more accountable by ensuring the post is not above the law.
It follows last week’s ending of lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution.
Buttressed by an unprecedented parliamentary majority after a snap July election, Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People party has set an ambitious timetable for passing such reforms.
But opponents of Tuesday’s vote said the legislation was rushed through without proper consultation and that the law itself was so convoluted as to be meaningless.
The law was passed at a first reading and then immediately voted on again a second time. Typically, legislation is sent to a committee for further scrutiny before being voted on again.
Ruslan Stefanchuk, Zelenskiy’s representative to parliament, said the vote showed the president was committed to keeping promises.
Under the new law, parliament must first initiate impeachment proceedings, which must then be approved by both the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court, and later be sanctioned by three-quarters of lawmakers.
“Perhaps the president was deceived, because this bill on impeachment does not really change anything. This is a collection of articles of the constitution,” said Roman Lozinsky of the Voice party.
“In fact, it is only a facade of reform that does not change anything.”
Zelenskiy’s party also plans to lift a long-standing ban on sale of farmland, which supporters say will unlock enormous investment potential in one of the world’s top grain exporters.
Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne