Referendum on Chechnya's draft Constitution to be held in March 2003

The referendum on Chechnya's Constitution will be conducted in the republic in March 2003, and the local election is expected to be held in December next year, Russian Presidential Plenipotentiary on Human Rights in Chechnya Abdul Hakim Sultygov said on Wednesday.

According to Sultygov, the referendum day "will mark the beginning of the state, civilized political history of the republic." He reminded that in 1991 the constitutional process in Chechnya "was disrupted by extremists," that was why the new Constitution "was called upon to tackle the unresolved issues." Sultygov noted that the referendum would help the Chechen people "to determine their fate." He stressed that it was difficult to organize a referendum because security, mass media working conditions and economic issues must be taken into account. According to Sultygov, "the March referendum will be a test for the authorities before the forthcoming Parliamentary and local elections scheduled to take place in Chechnya in December."

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