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Some opposition leave Constitutional Commission

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, April 19
The parliamentary United National Movement (UNM) and the non-parliamentary State for People opposition parties have quit the State Constitutional Commission as a sign of protest. The non-parliamentary Free Democrats may also take the step, as they also oppose the draft of constitutional amendments pushed by the 73-member commission.

UNM member Roman Gotsiridze stressed the Government was lobbying for draft amendments that would make the country’s key legal code tailored to the ruling team’s interests.

He stressed the amended version is worse than the existing Constitution.

For their part, the Free Democrats haven’t yet made a final solution of their own.

However, as party member Shalva Shavgulidze says, they also “strongly disapprove” of the planned amendments.

“They show signs of further concentration of power and risks of undemocratic processes. This concerns the proposed election system, which is not fair, as well as the election of the president,” said Shavgulidze.

Meanwhile, members of the ruling team evaluated the opposition’s step as an attempt to “earn political points”, and said that leaving the commission was useless now, as the commission has actually finished its work and the draft of the amendments would be discussed in Parliament and by all interested sides.

“One final session is left, and I cannot understand their decision. They have left themselves outside the ongoing processes. Georgia's recent history shows that no of party has ever profited from boycotts. The parties put themselves beyond the processes by boycotting the comission, and it is their choice. I cannot say that the legitimacy of the Constitutional Commission will be put under question. I have a firm position that it is a legitimate body,” said vice-speaker of Parliament Zviad Dzidziguri.

Speaking about several key constitutional changes head of the commission, parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze said that “the president’s status will remain the same as in the current constitution; meaning that the President of Georgia will be the Head of State, the Commander-in-Chief and will represent the country in foreign relations.”

Kobakhidze, however, added that the president will no longer be elected by the people.

Referring to the parliamentary election, Kobakhidze said that the body will be elected by “a fully proportional system,” that would ensure “the best balance of parties.”

He claimed that the experts of the Venice Commission positively evaluated the changes.

The commission - composed of experts and representatives of seven political parties, government agencies and non-governmental organizations - was established in early December through the initiative of the ruling team for the second time, and was tasked to present the draft of amendments by April 30 this year.