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Cohabitation and constitutional uncertainty

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, December 27
Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili recently stated that the impeachment of President Mikheil Saakashvili is not on the agenda of his Georgian Dream coalition anymore. First of all, this decision was explained by the position of Georgia’s Western allies. However, this topic is still alive. The signatures of ordinary citizens are being collected with this request and more than 30 NGOs plan to apply to the Constitutional Court with this proposal.

The Georgian State Constitution had been amended more than 140 times since the Rose administration took over. Unfortunately since then the major state document became a simple paper which could be changed at any single moment according to the wish of the Parliamentary majority.

Very often such changes were based on the personal wish of President Saakashvili. The last changes in the constitution which will come into force after the 2013 Presidential Election were clearly designed to comfort Saakashvili’s ambition to become Georgia’s PM.

These amendments decrease the powers of president and increase the powers of the Prime Minister. However, the United National Movement (UNM) aspirations were shattered after Ivanishvili’s coalition won the Parliamentary Election.

In fact, as soon as he lost, Georgia’s President immediately declared that his party is moving to the opposition, therefore, these signs of confrontation led to Georgia’s Western friends' recommending a model of cohabitation between President and government.

However, cohabitation becomes very difficult due to the negligence, carelessness, ignorance or deliberate steps of the previous Georgian administration, there are certain clauses in the state document which contradict one another.

The first article of paragraph 70 of the constitution reads that the president is elected for a five year term. But Article 9 of the same paragraph stipulates that the regular elections of the President should be held in October of the year when current president’s powers expire.

President Saakashvili was elected as Georgian president on January 5, 2008. He was inaugurated on January 20; these five years expire in January, 2013. Therefore, from this period Georgia will officially have no President.

Some analysts and politicians in Georgia see the solution from this absurd situation: as if president Saakashvili will resign voluntarily and the parliamentary chairman will be taking over his powers for several months before the upcoming presidential elections scheduled on October.

This would have been the case in any normal country with normal leadership and an honest, responsible president. Georgia is an exception.

Some analysts think it is useless to apply to the Constitutional Court as it consists of supporters of President Saakashvili and his policy. Therefore it is unlikely that it will pass judge in an objective way.

The cohabitation model is very difficult to follow, although the common sense of the Georgian people will hopefully prevail.