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Majority and minority fail to agree on constitutional changes

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, February 21
The Georgian Dream and the United National Movement failed to reach an agreement concerning the proposed constitutional changes. A special statement concerning the issue was made by parliamentary speaker, Davit Usupashvili, who underscored that the failure of the negotiation was caused by the UNM’s preconditions raised at the last moment.

Usupashvili reviewed the negotiation process and emphasized that the agreement was achieved on all constitutional issues.

“We raised one issue– the president not to have the right to dissolve both parliament and the government. We stated that after agreeing on the issue, a way would be opened for solving other matters,” Usupashvili stated, adding that the UNM then demanded several conditions.

According to Usupashvili the sides agreed on the following issues:

1. To increase the threshold for any future constitutional amendment from 100 to 113 MPs;
2. Not to make any constitutional amendments regarding parliament’s location until autumn.
3. To enforce only part of new constitution with the president still retaining his powers to appoint governors; keeping the presidential veto; keeping tough rules for presidential impeachment;
4. To add the UNM's constitution proposal on foreign policy; the document should be agreed upon by international organizations and not with the Georgian government.

“After the agreement on all these issues, the UNM proposed on February 16 additional precondition – unconditional and full amnesty for all the public officials from the president to employees of the provincial municipalities and applying to all the wrongdoings, except of violent crimes,” Usupashvili said.

“Then they suggested full amnesty for everyone, except the president, ministers and parliamentarians for wrongdoings, except violent crimes, committed before October 1, 2012,” Usupashvili said. According to the parliament chair the coalition could not agree on the precondition, as such action would be unfair, wrong and retraction of pre-election promises.

“We will not be able to give an answer to the people on the question: why do we pardon everyone, except the president, parliamentarians and ministers,” Usupashvili said.

The parliament chair underscored what the coalition has planned concerning the constitutional changes and some other related issues. These include:

1. Initiate a bill on amnesty for officials based on the principles proposed by the Georgian Dream on February 17, which means full amnesty for low and mid-level public servants and partial amnesty for high level officials.
2. Voting on the constitutional amendment prohibiting the president from forming a government singlehandedly, without parliamentary consent, will be held as required, depending on the political situation;
3. The coalition will not raise the issue of moving the parliament building from Kutaisi to Tbilisi until the end of spring session.
4. GD will continue efforts to reach an agreement with UNM on GD-proposed 14-point inter-faction document on foreign policy. However, Usupashvili explained that until March 15 the document will be elaborated and will reflect Georgia’s foreign orientation in a documental way.
5. State Commission will be established that will work on large-scaled constitutional amendments.
6. An inter-factional group on improving the election code will start intensive work from March NGOs and interested all interested sides will be able to participate in the actions of the group.

The majority and minority could not agree on stopping the campaigns of oppression on UNM members, leader Davit Bakradze stated.

According to him no one demanded immunity. However, oppression of all the individuals connected with the National Movement should have been stopped.

“Without this, speaking on cohabitation is unimaginable. We, the leading figures, are ready to answer if we have committed something. However, the current government should give up their campaign of oppression of all people who are somehow connected with the former government,” Bakradze said.

Despite the disagreement over the issue both sides are still ready to solve issues through negotiations.