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President’s annual speech to parliament is overdue

By M. Alkhazashvili
(Translated by Diana Dundua)
Wednesday, April 16

There is a surplus of scandals in Georgian politics, barely leaving room for a minor controversy over an annual speech.

This time, the president is accused of violating the constitution.

Article 73 of the Georgian constitution obligates the president to submit an annual report to parliament on the state of Georgia.

When ex-president Eduard Shevardnadze delivered the annual address, he would afterwards listen to critical speeches made by opposition politicians.

President Mikheil Saakashvili has also made annual speeches each spring from 2004–2007, but he tweaked the format: the president does not wait around to hear the opposition’s reaction.

His speech for 2008 is overdue.

Conservative MP Kakha Kukava is accusing Saakashvili of neglecting a constitutional obligation.

The New Rights’ Davit Saganelidze said the president is forgoing the speech because he has nothing to say.

Saakashvili could say plenty, but anything the president conspicuously doesn’t say—about the November 7 crackdown on anti-government protestors, for instance—will be heard even louder. And with parliamentary elections in a month, there is little reason for Saakashvili to give a high-profile floor for rebuttals to his opponents.

So, rather than the president giving his verdict on the state of Georgia this spring, the voters will.