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Working group to address constitutional amendments

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, October 21
Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili has said he is ready to create a working group that would prepare amendments to the country’s Constitution, which was significantly modified under the United National Movement (UNM) leadership six years ago.

The President raised his initiative over the creation of the group in the wake of the Prime Minister’s statement on October 19 about the necessity of setting up such a group in the newly elected Parliament.

The group established by President Giorgi Margvelashvili would be co-chaired by him, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Parliament Speaker David Usupashvili, the head of President’s Administration Giorgi Abashishvili said.

“If all the officials were ready consultations over the group’s structure and working rules can be launched immediately,” Abashishvili said.

Kvirikashvili initiated the group amid criticism from the opposition parties, who say if the ruling Georgian-Dream Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party gains a constitutional majority in the new Parliament after the October 30 second round of elections, it will make any changes to the Constitution it likes.

A constitutional majority means at least 100 MPs belonging to one party in the 150-seat legislative body.

The GDDG already has 67 seats after the first round of elections, and its candidates will take part in the second round of majoritarian race in 49 majoritarian constituencies.

Kvirikashvili stressed that he supported a working group in the new Parliament that would work on constitutional amendments through the involvement of all interested sides, which would make the Constitution “really European and democratic”.

In October 2010, under the previous United National Movement leadership, Parliament passed amendments to the constitution which significantly reduced powers of the President in favor of the PM and the government.

Through the changes, the country moved to a parliamentary ruling model from a presidential variant, but, as experts and the opposition stated, there were multiple issues that needed to be clearly explained.

Member of the Republican Party opposition Vakhtang Khmaladze says it will be important who the members of the working group will, whether the group wrote down the amendments that would be approved by wider public and whether the changes drafted by the group would be supported by the constitutional majority in Parliament.

Member of Free Democrats opposition Levan Samushia said his party was ready to be involved in the activities of the working group.

He also said the Free Democrats welcomed the President’s participation in the process, but added he had suspicions of the GDDG majority on how they would keep their promise about the constitutional changes supported by a large spectrum of public.