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PM praises constitutional draft amid opposition’s and Ombudsman’s criticism

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, September 27
Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili says that the Georgian Dream leadership took “historically unprecedented steps” to adopt a constitution which would be of “the highest standards”.

“The constitutional draft was elaborated through unprecedented public involvement,” Kvirikashvili stated.

“Unfortunately, the opposition is trying to imply that the draft is a one-party document, which is not true, as political parties, experts and NGOs were participating in the constitutional discussions. Such a process was unprecedented,” Kvirikashvili stated.

The PM stressed that the constitutional draft has received high evaluations from the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.

“The Venice Commission assessed the draft as a document based on the principles of democracy, the state of law and the fundamental protection of rights,” Kvirikashvili stated.

Kvirikashvili highlighted that Georgia could be proud of the document, which he claims ensures a balance between state institutions, a strong Parliament, effective government, fair courts and an impartial President.

The PM stated that the ruling party took various steps to reach a consensus with the opposition over the document.

He stressed that the ruling team accepted the direct election of the president for 2018 for a six and not five year term, until the country moves to fully proportional elections in 2024, after which the president will be elected by a special council.

Kvirikashvili highlighted that the Georgian Dream party accepted the eventual transition to fully proportional elections, which has been the demand of all the opposition parties for many years.

“The majority lowered the election threshold to three percent from five percent for the 2020 parliamentary elections until the country moves to fully proportional elections, and allowed the creation of election blocs for the next parliamentary race.

“The draft also prohibited the selling of agricultural lands to foreign nationals.

“The amendments boosted the opposition rights in Parliament and permitted them to create investigative commissions,” Kvirikashvili stated.

The opposition parties continue to call the draft a “one-party” document and stress that many opposition representatives and NGOs left the constitutional discussions in protest, as the ruling team consistently ignored their major demands.

The opposition claims their major demands concern moving to fully proportional elections from 2020 and the direct election of the president.

“Instead of having a consensus on a number of issues and drafting a document that would take into consideration the opinions of different groups of society, unfortunately, everything was done to get a one-party constitution, and it is very sad," Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili said while criticizing the draft.

The draft was adopted with its third and final reading on September 26, and now the President will either sign or veto it.

If the President vetoes the draft, Parliament will either override the veto, or take the President’s motivated remarks into account.

Experts predict that the President will veto the bill, and the majority will easily override the veto with at least 76 votes in the 150-member Parliament, as the Georgian Dream party currently enjoys a majority with 116 seats.