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President refuses to appoint extraordinary session

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, September 26
Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili has refused to appoint an extraordinary session for the third and final reading of the constitutional draft, after the Parliament Speaker appealed to him with the request.

The President’s Parliamentary Secretary Anna Dolidze stated that the draft constitution has “various drawbacks” and there is no unanimity on the planned changes to the country’s main law.

“The draft has been hastily adopted with two, key readings. The amendments fail to ensure the balance between state institutions and creates a threat for a one-party governance,” Dolidze stated on September 25.

Majority leader Mamuka Mdinaradze accused the President of “shadowing the constitutional reform” together with the opposition parties.

Giorgi Kakhiani from the Georgian Dream ruling party stressed despite the President’s refusal, Parliament would still assemble for the final reading today.

Irakli Kobakhidze, the Speaker of Georgian Parliament, has addressed the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, to call an extraordinary session of Parliament, in order to finalize the constitutional amendment process.

The current constitution reads that the President has to call an extraordinary meeting within 48 hours. Otherwise,Parliament is authorized to assemble within the next 48 hours.

Only editorial changes are expected to be made to the draft constitution.

Kobakhidze also announced the initiative of new constitutional amendments, which will cancel the so-called bonus system and allow the creation of blocs for the 2020 parliamentary elections.

The initiative came after the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) agreed to take into account several demands of the opposition.

The GD party sent a letter to the Venice Commission on September 17, promising to consider allowing party blocs, together with the reduction of the election threshold to 3% at the 2020 elections. This step was welcomed by the Commission.

The changes will not affect the decision of the ruling team to switch to a proportional system from 2024.

The Commission’s preliminary report, released a few days ago reads that the introduction of a proportional election system from 2024 and not from 2020 is “highly regrettable and a major obstacle to reaching a consensus”.

The amendments also introduce the indirect election of the president. The president will be elected by special electoral boards composed of 150 MPs, all members of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republics and party voters. Before this, the President was elected by the people through direct elections.

The current regulations do not allow the ability to make changes to the country’s main document, as only its third and final reading is left. This means that Parliament will have to approve the Constitution Draft without any changes, then launch negotiations about the constitution changes and arrange discussions over the issue in the regions.

Opposition parties and the presidential administration do not approve the text of the new draft Constitution, claiming it is not based on consensus with the other political parties and favors only the ruling party.