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New Rights say Saakashvili aiming for third term in office

By Ana Datiashvili
Thursday, January 31
Opposition MPs allege President Mikheil Saakashvili is trying to rewrite the constitution to allow himself a third consecutive term after a draft amendment dated to November 2007 surfaced in parliament.

The constitution currently says “a given person can be elected president no more than twice consecutively.” The draft amendment would reword that provision to “a given person cannot be Georgia’s president for more than ten years consecutively.”

“Saakashvili is trying to stay in power longer with this amendment, and we will strongly oppose it,” said oppositional New Rights MP Manana Nachkebia.

According to fellow New Rights member Mamuka Katsitadze, Saakashvili’s resignation on November 25 2007 to run for reelection cut short his first five-year term to three years and nine months. If he serves out his second term until 2013 as planned he will have held office a little under nine years.

The amendment, which is dated November 13 2007, would theoretically allow Saakashvili to run for a third term but step down after a year in office.

Majority MPs say the draft amendment isn’t being pushed seriously at the moment.

“Initiation [of change] doesn’t mean changes,” said Vice-Speaker of Parliament Mikheil Machavariani when questioned by journalists on January 29. “This needs a month of discussion…but I don’t think this is a very real possibility at this time.”

“We have parliamentary elections in the spring, and we are hard at work on this,” he added.