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Compiled by Londa Mindiashvili
Friday, July 31
Gubaz Sanikidze is not going to enter Parliament

Akhali Taoba reports that Gubaz Sanikidze, a leader of the National Forum, is not intending to enter Parliament. Sanikidze said this to Pirveli while responding to the President’s proposal that the opposition politicians who refused to enter Parliament after the May 21, 2008 elections, be given the chance to take their seats.

“Commenting on this issue is a waste of words. The National Forum is not planning to change its position. I say again that I refuse to enter Parliament,” added Sanikidze.

Almost all the members of non-Parliamentary opposition parties who refused to take their seats in the Parliament when elected last year have said are not going to sit in Parliament. Only Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, leader of the Alliance for Freedom, has not fixed a position on this issue yet.

The bill proposed by the President concerns the opposition members who won seats last year as part of the proportional lists but refused to take them. There are 12 such individuals. The proposal is a one-time offer by the President which he will not repeat if it is refused this time.

Irrigation water must be free

Akhali Taoba reports that the Labour Party is demanding that water tax should be abolished for peasants. Giorgi Gugava, a member of the Labour Party, has held a press conference and criticised the Government’s decision to tax irrigation water. He said that the tax is so high that it will be very difficult to produce the harvest and the Labour Party is planning to make a proposal to Parliament to abolish irrigation water tax.

“We will appeal to Parliament with a legislative initiative to abolish taxes on irrigation water. The fact that this country has 26,000 rivers is not an achievement of Saakashvili and his band. Georgian peasants must use this resource without any fee,” stated Gugava.

NGOs complain they have not been consulted

Representatives of nongovernmental organisations think presenting a field of candidates for the position of Georgian Ombudsman without holding prior consultations is not just, Rezonansi writes. They state that neither the Parliamentary majority nor the opposition has consulted them over this issue and this is unacceptable. It is known that nongovernmental organisations had their own preferred candidate, Giorgi Chkheidze, the Deputy Ombudsman, who has not been nominated for election.

Tamar Khidasheli, Chair of the Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association, says the election process is going too fast and without due consideration of all the issues. Keti Khutsishvili, the Director of Open Society-Georgia, also states that the selection and presentation of candidates is happening too quickly and neither the Government nor the opposition has been interested in consulting anyone.

Giorgi Sesiashvili, the Chair of Justice and Freedom, is a bit surprised by the Government’s decision to proceed with the election of a new Ombudsman in the way it has. “I think it would be better if the Government consulted NGOs. The Public Defender should be a person with experience in this sphere. A lot of organisations advocate for people’s right in Georgia so the Government should listen to them. As regards Giorgi Chkheidze, I approve of him standing because I consider Chkheidze a worthy candidate,” added Sesiashvili.