December 21, 2017 / 9:10 AM / a year ago

Ukraine MPs vote to withdraw law to spur creation of anti-corruption court

KIEV (Reuters) - The Ukrainian parliament voted on Thursday to withdraw a law on the creation of an anti-corruption court, paving the way for the submission of a new law more in line with demands from backers, including the International Monetary Fund.

Slow progress establishing an independent court to deal with corruption cases has been one of the main obstacles to the disbursement of loans under a $17.5 billion aid-for-reforms program from the Fund.

President Petro Poroshenko has promised to submit a draft law to set up such a court, but first parliament needed to vote to withdraw a similar bill that did not meet recommendations by a leading European rights watchdog.

The motion was backed by 235 lawmakers, slightly more than the 226 required to pass.

A government source told Reuters the president would submit the new law to parliament by the end of this week.

The IMF and Ukraine’s other foreign backers have repeatedly called for Ukraine to improve efforts to root out graft. They see an anti-corruption court as an essential tool for eliminating the power of vested interests.

MP Mustafa Nayyem criticized the president for the delays. “It took the presidential administration a whole year to develop this document,” he said in a post on Facebook.

“They (the authorities) tried to convince the world that we have no use for it (a court). As a result of public accusations from foreign partners and the noise of street protests, they’ve backed down,” he said.

Earlier in December, Poroshenko emphasized his commitment to reform, responding to accusations that the Ukrainian authorities were deliberately sabotaging the anti-corruption fight.

Establishing the court, sticking to gas price commitments and implementing sustainable pension reform are the key conditions Ukraine must meet to qualify for the next loan tranche of around $2 billion from the IMF.

Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Robin Pomeroy

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