The messenger logo

Public Discussions on Constitution launched

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, July 30
The public commission, which is in charge of holding open discussions on the new draft constitution of Georgia, started working from July 28. The commission introduced the basic points of the constitutional amendments to scientists and the representatives of non-governmental organizations. As has been mentioned, compared with the base version of the constitution, the current one has been significantly modified and the power of President has grown markedly in the revised version.

ďThe primary version of the new constitution was focused on the classical parliamentary model, but the mode of governance in this document is a mix of presidential and parliamentary rule, which we believe will meet the challenges we face today. Based on the present model, we are discussing today, Presidential power is not as minimal, as it was foreseen in the base version. In the foreign affairs and Defence spheres the presidentís power remains quite influential,Ē Majority Leader, Petre Tsiskarishvili, stated.

More proof that the Presidentís functions will not be very much limited has been given by head of the Parliamentary Justice Committee, Pavle Kublashvili."The Parliament will be able to set the impeachment of the president only once. The legislative organ will not be able to repeat the same for two or more times. The case can be started only if 1/3 of the whole Parliament supports the Presidentís impeachment. Then the case moves to Constitutional Court and if the court finds signs of criminality in Presidentís activities and confirms them it presents its report to the Parliament within 15 days of the confirmation of illegal activity. Parliament will discuss the report and if 2/3 of the total parliament members vote for it, he will be removed from his post. The fact that the Parliament will be able to carry out this procedure only once, is a sign that the President will not be hostage of the Parliament," Kublashvili said. He added that people with dual citizenship will not be allowed to take initial posts; "the presidentís, Prime Ministerís and the Parliamentary speakerís posts can not be taken by those persons, who will be the citizens of some other countries at the same time. The present constitution project prohibits this."

Based on the present constitution model, minimal age to be a judge is 30. As for rules on their appointment: a person must be over 30, with highest juridical education and at least 5 years working experience in this field.

When the majority is so optimistic towards the future governance model of Georgia, the opposition considers the constitution project as the possible source of another crisis in the country. "The only aim of the new constitution is to protect the interests of the present authorities and it serves the interests of the President, Mikheil Saakashvili. It has no importance what will be written on the paper; the main issue is the real situation in the country. Reality is that there is no legal supremacy in the country and in this case any constitution will produce nothing positive. This constitution project is a personal document drafted only by the National Movement; no public opinion was foreseen and will not be taken into consideration." Said the common statement of the Conservative Party, Peopleís Party, Labour Party and the Movement for Fair Georgia, voiced on July 28.

As head of Georgiaís Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), Tamar Khidasheli Told the Messenger, "I am the member of the commission and GYLA is actively involved in these discussions. Our organization plans to hold meetings with journalists and society representatives in our regional offices and give them information on the constitution project, as I think that the period selected for public discussions on the project has been wrongly chosen. During August, which is the indicated period of public discussions, there is less opportunity for Georgian people to be actively involved in the process and we protested this fact," Khidasheli underlined the main remarks towards the constitution project, "in general, this project is better compared with the present constitution, however there are some significant obstacles in it. The Presidentís power is limited; however he still remains as an active participant of the political process. Power of the Government significantly increases when there is no accompanying mechanism of accountability and it has serious levers to undertake control of the Parliament. The fact that the judges be appointed term less , can be considered as positive, however setting a 3 year test period for them before they are appointed, imposes question marks on this decisions positive sidesĒ Khidasheli said.