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Ivanishvili asks Saakashvili to make decision over constitutional changes

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, February 27
Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has requested President Mikheil Saakashvili to provide a straightforward answer in the next 2-3 days on whether he will reject the “constitutional dictatorship” or support a ban on changing the government without the parliament’s consent.

Ivanishvili stressed that the proposed constitutional changes will be voted on by the parliament at the end of March.

“Those who agree with the proposed changes will continue to serve the country, improve mistakes and have a chance for a better political future, while those who reject it will take on full political responsibility for everything that any UNM member has committed during the past 9 years,” Ivanishvili said in his address, adding that the constitutional changes will define whether Georgia will go forward or take a step back.

In his Tuesday address Ivanishvili said he does not refer to Saakashvili “as a political rival.” However, he said the abyss between the United National Movement (UNM) and the people is constantly increasing.

The PM said the government is always accountable to the people. This is why he said his Georgian Dream Coalition proposed the constitutional changes and even negotiated with the UNM.

“But you have done everything to avoid bringing the process to a civilized cooperative mode,” the PM’s letter reads, supposing that Saakashvili has been “blackmailing” his team members with “exaggerated threats.” Ivanishvili thinks that Saakashvili is forcing the entire UNM to take responsibility for the crimes of individual members.

He said it is the public which should judge the MPs voting for or against the proposed changes, but the law will remain supreme for everyone and the court will release innocent people but detain criminals.

Several days earlier, President Saakashvili admitted the mistakes that the UNM has made during their governance. However, he told the talk show The Accents that the UNM remains one of the most united teams in politics.

“I planned to leave politics,” Saakashvili said on February 22. However, he explained that to leave the political arena now would equal running away from the battlefield.

According to the president, the country that he and his team have received 8 years ago had no prospects for development. But under the UNM administration, crime and corruption were eradicated.

“No one has taken anything home… and if anyone has – we detained and removed a lot of our officials. It is good that some part has left us,” he said, adding that the UNM is now being “cleaned.”

Georgian Dream Members approved of Ivanishvili’s letter saying Saakashvili had enough time to think over the proposed changes, this is why he should finally give the particular answer, but the UNM members called Ivanishvili’s address “an ultimatum.”

UNM MP Nugzar Tsiklauri thinks that PM is threatening to opponents. Davit Darchiashvili said his team is ready to continue the dialogue, but not in return for “political persecution.” UNM members think that the Georgian Dream can receive enough votes for constitutional changes under intimidation.

Political analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili does not think the PM’s address will have a particular importance for the UNM’s decision over the proposed changes. However, he said if an agreement is achieved over the state constitution, peace will be ensured in the country, otherwise – it would be hard to explain to the Georgian people why “such important changes” were not achieved in parliament and the country will continue living under “the dictatorial constitution.”