New opportunity for Minsk II deal as Donetsk, Luhansk republics put off local elections

Decision to postpone votes had been demanded by Kiev · Leaders of both self-declared republics insist special status must be given to both territories within Ukraine · Ukrainian president's plans only include local government decentralization

Leaders of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) yesterday gave some respite to the Minsk II agrrements after announcing their decision to postpone local elections in the two self-proclaimed republics until next year. Both votes should have been held on October 18th (DPR) and November 1st (LPR), but the Ukrainian government was opposed to them. This confrontation had jeopardized the continued implementation of the Minsk II agreements.

According to the deal reached by the presidents of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France last February in the Belarusian capital, elections in areas controlled by the RPD and RPL shall be held under Ukrainian legislation once that country passes a constitutional reform aimed at decentralization. So far, RPD and RPL leaders had maintained their intention to held the votes under the two self-styled republics' law, which do not enjoy diplomatic recognition by any state in the world.

But disagreements remain on what the final status of the DPR- and RPL-held territories in Ukraine should be. According to Minsk II, the Ukrainian Constitution should specify that, but Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko insists that a special autonomous regime in the areas controlled by the secessionist republics is not foreseen in the draft amendments introduced in the Ukrainian Parliament, except for a set of transitional provisions already approved by Ukrainian lawmakers.

Conversely, the leaders of the two self-proclaimed republics argue that, according to what was signed in Minsk, Ukraine should give a special status to the DPR and LPR and should include them in the process to define the final amendments to the Ukrainian Constitution. Russia holds the same opinion.

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