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President waits to be involved in Constitutional discussion

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, May 4
The President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili, who would like to involved in the public discussions held over the constitutional amendments drafted by the 73-member State Constitutional Commission, is now waiting for a special offer from the Parliament of Georgia.

President’s political advisor Pikria Chikhradze stated that the President declared from the very beginning that he wanted to be part of the public discussions, despite the fact the president’s administration refused to participate in the State Constitutional Commission's activities.

Chikhradze said that Parliament, which stands behind the amendments-related procedures, should now offer the President a way in which Margvelashvili could participate in the discussions, aimed at to informing the public over the planned changes to the country’s main legal code.

Responding to the statement, majority representative Mamuka Mdinaradze said the President’s initiative was “obscure.”

He stressed that the President must be more clear as to why he personally wants to be involved in the process.

“We welcome the President’s involvement, but the offer must be clearer. Only after this can a decision be made,” Mdinaradze said.

Meanwhile, Parliament has already composed the nine-member commission without the President or his people, which will inform people about the Constitutional amendments in one month's time before hearings start in the legislative body.

The organizational commission will be led by Irakli Kobakhidze, the Parliament Speaker, and the members will be MPs Tamar Chugoshvili from the ruling team, Irma Inashvili from the Alliance of Patriots parliamentary opposition, Sergi Kapanadze from the European Georgia parliamentary opposition, Zurab Chiaberashvili from the United National Movement parliamentary opposition, experts Vasil Gonashvili and Tengiz Sharmanashvili, and Eka Gigauri, a representative of the International Transparency Georgia. Another member of the organizational committee is an expert in constitutional issues, Tornike Cheishvili.

“The large-scaled public discussion will presumably be set up this week. The commission will introduce draft constitutional changes to the population of Georgia. This process will last for at least one month,” the majority announced.

At the final stage of activities, part of the opposition and a number of NGOs boycotted the State Constitutional Commission, which was set up through the initiative of the Georgian Dream leadership in order to amend the Constitution, which was previously changed under the United National Movement leadership in 2010.

The opposition claims that the draft offered by the commission is fitted to the interests of the ruling team, while the majority claims that 80% of the changes reflect the opposition and NGOs’ remarks.

The President refused to participate in the state commission’s activities in the process of drafting the changes after the ruling team turned down the President’s offer over co-chairing the State Constitutional Commission with the Prime Minister and the Parliament chair.

The final phase for the amendments is a vote in Parliament, allegedly at the spring session this year.

At least 113 votes are required in the 150-member legislative body the changes to be approved.

The amendments include the rejection of the president’s direct election, the banning of majoritarian elections, the prohibition of election blocs, and giving undistributed votes after the parliamentary elections to the party gaining the first place.