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Saakashvili creates Constitutional Commission

By Temuri Kiguradze
Tuesday, June 9
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili signed an order establishing a special commission which will prepare amendments to the Constitution of Georgia on June 8.

Saakashvili appointed Avtandil Demetrashvili, a Professor at Tbilisi State University, as Chairman of the commission; his appointment was proposed by the Parliamentary opposition. By June 14 Demetrashvili must present the schedule and agenda of all the commission’s sessions. Under the President’s order, published on his official web page, all Georgia’s main Parliamentary and non-Parliamentary parties have been invited to send representative to the commission. The President also proposes that institutions such as the Justice Council, Supreme and Constitutional Court, Security Council, National Bank, the de jure Abkhazian and South Ossetian authorities, the Public Defender’s Office and others should also present candidates for participation in this work. Saakashvili has also invited influential non-governmental organisations to join the commission, whose total membership, including 20 independent political experts, will be 70.

One of the main changes considered by the commission will be reform of the Georgian Parliament. President Saakashvili has announced that the constitutional reform will give Georgia a “strong President and Parliament.” The newly-appointed head of the commission doesn’t exclude the Georgian Parliament becoming a two chamber legislature. “I think that today it is possible to discuss the idea of a bicameral Parliament. I am absolutely sure that no damage will be done by creating a two chamber Parliament,” stated Demetrashvili, talking to journalists on Monday. The deadline for nominating representatives to the commission is June 20, says the Presidential order. Speaking on June 4 the President stated that he would personally guarantee that “there will be no interference or political pressure” applied to the commission.

Georgia’s non-Parliamentary opposition, who have been conducting protest rallies demanding the President’s resignation since April 9, have already announced that despite the invitation they will not join the commission. However representatives of Irakli Alasania’s Alliance for Georgia have noted that the opposition might create some kind of “alternative constitutional commission” and present their reform proposals to the Government.

“Our demand is the same – early Presidential and Parliamentary elections - and we will continue to fight for this,” stated Zurab Abashidze, a member of Alasania’s group, as quoted by Georgian news agency Interpressnews. “We have the idea of creating an alternative commission of high-level lawyers and constitutional experts which will develop an alternative constitution. This idea will be discussed with other opposition parties,” added Abashidze.

“I think that the work of this commission will not be effective, mainly because of the large number of participants,” stated independent Georgian analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze, speaking to The Messenger on Monday. Sakvarelidze also noted that the commission will not contain many experts who will criticize the current Government. “Just like before, during the last Parliamentary and Presidential elections, this attempt to reform the Constitution seems to be something invented just to show the so-called goodwill of the Government. It will not achieve any concrete results,” Sakvarelidze stated.

The analyst added that the Alliance for Georgia’s suggestion of an alternative commission “seems to be a good proposal.” “This sort of commission should consist of experts and professionals only, who have no interest other than in improving the quality of the Constitution. When someone adds politicians, they start to discuss ideas on the basis of what benefits them and this spoils the result,” concluded Sakvarelidze.