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President against Constitutional Commission

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, March 6
President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili spoke out against the 73-member State Constitutional Commission which was formed in December last year to make amendments to the country’s main law.

The President highlighted that the commission was created to “improve the shortcomings in the Constitution drafted by the United National Movement leadership” in 2010, mainly aimed to tailor changes against “one politician” (allegedly President Margvelashvili) rather than to ensure essential improvements in the law.

Margvelashvili stated it was the achievement of the people that the renewed constitution wouldn’t ban the direct election of the president, however he said large-scale public involvement in drafting the changes was not ensured.

The ruling Georgian Dream team also proposed that the country’s military forces act under the order of the Prime Minister instead of the President during emergencies or wartime.

In addition, they claimed that the structure of the military forces should be approved by the government instead of the President. Also, the government will submit the quantity of military forces to Parliament for approval.

The initiative also says the National Security Council will be transformed into the Defense Council, which will not be a permanent body under the President and will be created only in case of military activities.

Responding to the President’s statement, member of the ruling team Mamuka Mdinaradze appealed to everyone not to “mislead” the public over the commission.

He stressed if the commission’s activities targeted the president, it would mean that the president would be appointed and not elected.

The Constitutional Commission was established by the current ruling Georgian Dream party for the second time (a prior incarnation existed in 2013) in order to amend the Constitutional changes adopted under the previous ruling United National Movement government in 2010.

On December 23 2016 Georgia’s Parliament Speaker, who chairs the Commission, announced that members of the parliamentary majority and minority, non-parliamentary opposition, NGOs, experts, the president’s representatives, government members, heads of the Constitutional and Supreme Courts, the president of the National Bank, the public defender and several others, would all be involved in the activities of the Commission.

After the package of Constitutional changes are presented by the Commission, it will require the support of at least 113 lawmakers in the 150-member legislative body to come into effect.

The current ruling Georgian Dream has 116 representatives in the Parliament, ensuring an outright majority.