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President criticizes constitutional amendments

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, September 18
President Mikheil Saakashvili strongly criticized the planned constitutional changes that are expected to be discussed among the legislative body this week. The president stressed that through the changes, the current prime minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili, intends to rule the country when he leaves the political arena. Saakashvili touched upon the parliament’s move back to Tbilisi as well, stating that the step will cause damage to Kutaisi development. The statements were made during the president’s meeting with the minority representatives on September 16.

According to new constitutional provisions, which will go into force after the inauguration of the new president elected during the October 27 election, the threshold for passing any constitutional amendment will increase from current two-third (100 MPs) to three-fourth (113 MPs) majority.

However, the constitutional amendment, initiated by the Georgian Dream (GD) in June, envisages keeping the threshold unchanged at two-third majority. The changes are also related to restrictions of the prime minister’s rights that are significantly increased through the new constitution made under the former state administration of Georgia.

At least 100 votes are required for the GD to adopt the changes in the constitution.

“Passing of these constitutional amendments is related to the PM’s intention to have such a political system in which he will be able to completely usurp the power after his so-called departure from politics,” Saakashvili stressed.

The president emphasized that keeping the threshold unchanged will pave the way for a series of other constitutional amendments and the entire Georgian political spectrum, life and key decisions will be grabbed in the hands of Ivanishvili.

He also stressed that “Ivanishvili personally told him that moving the parliament building back to Tbilisi is aimed for him (Ivanishvili) to better control the political situation.”

The draft of changes was not initiated at the parliament’s bureau sitting on September 17. The parliamentary minority claims that the majority “tries to stretch the period, as the GD does not have the constitutional majority in the parliament that is required for adoption of the changes.”

Minority MPs, Levan Bezhashvili and Gia Tevdoradze state the ruling power should wait for the recommendations of the Venice Commission that will be available in October concerning the constitutional amendments. They state that despite the pressing policy of the Georgian Dream they have not gained the desirable 100 votes for the amendments.

The parliamentary majority states that the president’s statements were not adequate, as the changes restrict the power of the prime minister.

“It is very characteristic for Saakashvili to shift all the blame on others. He destroyed the country for 9 years and now wants to accuse Bidzina Ivanishvili in suspending progress. A month and a half is left until his presidential term expires and we will bare him until the time… everything will be settled after Saakashvili’s gone,” MP, Davit Saganelidze said.

According to coalition MP, Irakli Chikovani, there are 4 packages of changes and all of them have already passed the period of discussions.

“Our aim is to restrict the prime minister’s power and thus, the president’s statements are inadequate concerning the changes,” Chikovani stressed.

GD member Tina Khidasheli highlighted that everyone had and has information concerning the constitutional changes and the process has been transparent for all the interested sides.