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Public Commission attacks State Commission's new constitution

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, July 26
The Public Constitutional Commission, consisting of legal experts and civil society representatives, strongly criticised the new draft constitution on July 23 and stated that practically nothing would change after its adoption.

“Most of the power will remain in the executive branch, with the only difference being that instead of the President, as now, it will be the Prime Minister who has most of the authority,” Mindia Ugrekhelidze, a former Chairman of the Supreme Court and a member of the Public Constitutional Commission, said.

The Commission also criticised the draft for keeping the rule under which Governors of provinces are appointed and not elected. Under the proposed draft the only change is that they will be appointed by the Prime Minister instead of the President as currently. They also underlined that the proposed draft does not provide increased rights for the opposition in Parliament and said that setting up investigative or other types of commission will still depend on the will of the Parliamentary majority. However the proposed draft simplifies the procedure for establishing an investigative commission, as one fifth of lawmakers, instead of the current one fourth, are required for this purpose.

They also had remarks towards the organic law. "It is unacceptable that the category of organic law is removed from the draft of constitutional amendments. Changes to organic laws require a higher quorum than those to ordinary laws. By removing this category of law, the Government makes it easier for it pass legislation through Parliament,” Ugrekhelidze said. The Commission members added that there is nothing about the improvement of the election environment in the draft either.

The Government remains positive about the new constitution draft. "We are moving to a typical European model, in which the legislative organ creates the Government without the President’s involvement. The State Commission which drafted this included different political parties and representatives of society. Those who refused to participate have condemned themselves by adopting the wrong strategy. The statements that this constitution creates a means for Saakashvili to remain the leading authority in the country are not serious and are being made by those forces frightened of Saakashvili. After confirmation of the constitution the main organ will be Parliament and the party which gains a majority in Parliament will elect the Prime Minister. What does this have to do with Saakashvili? I cannot understand?” MP Akaki Minashvili said.

Analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili told the Messenger that, ”the main reason why the President started talking about constitutional amendments was not to create an adequate constitution but to calm the street rallies being held by the opposition, as he suggested that oppositional representatives collaborate in drafting the new Constitution. The genuine opposition, of course, refused to do this. What has happened is that in 2013 the situation which best suits the present authorities will be in place… Nothing there says that after 2013, when the current President's term expires, he cannot take some other post, whereas in the American constitution, a former President is prohibited from even entering administrative institutions for a year after his term ends,” Tsiskarishvili said. He added that, "those people who confirm that this constitution balances the branches of government do not know what is written in it. All we can expect now is that the draft will be adopted under Government pressure and no public comments will be taken into account, which of course will not bring anything good to the country,” Tsiskarishvili said.