Power for president

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The Independent Online
MOSCOW - The draft constitution on which President Boris Yeltsin hopes to build a new post-Communist political system would grant sweeping new powers and make the Russian executive stronger than either the US or French presidents, writes Andrew Higgins.

The new parliament would be a bi-cameral body called the Federal Assembly, with a Council of Federation, representing regions and semi-autonomous republics, and a popularly elected Duma.

Mr Yeltsin's proposals would make it more difficult, though by no means impossible, to remove him from office.

The Russian president, who will be elected, as now, for a five-year term, would gain the right to initiate legislation and virtually to impose his own choice as prime minister irrespective of the balance of forces in parliament.

Only the prime minister would face any scrutiny from the legislature. Also within the president's gift would be the right to call referendums, issue decrees and negotiate treaties.