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Parliament to discuss president’s powers today

by | Feb 5, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch — A set of constitutional amendments are set to be debated in parliament today Tuesday.

The amendments have been through a public hearing process with town hall type meetings around the country.

The Judiciary Committee will discuss it at the first hearing and the bill will be presented in the first plenary session. However, the bill is not yet finally decided, as the bureau of parliament has to make a schedule for reviews.

The changes are, first, to remove the prohibition against the president dismissing parliament six months after a parliamentary election and six months before a presidential election, which means that President Saakashvili will be able to dismiss parliament any time and announce unscheduled parliamentary elections.

On the other hand, the draft establishes a new prohibition against the president dismissing the government.

The Georgian Dream coalition is nine votes short of passing constitutional changes, which takes a two third majority — 100 votes. The ruling coalition therefore openly appealed to the National Movement party (UNM) on Monday, asking them to support the amendments and called them to appear in TV debates to discuss the changes.

Former speaker of parliament Davit Bakradze from UNM said Monday that his party is prepared to support the constitutional changes if certain conditions are met.

“Despite political pressure and direct blackmailing of MPs, the parliamentary majority wasn’t able to gather a constitutional quorum,” he said.

Bakradze says Georgian Dream is trying to convince people that the previous government has ‘some evil plan to dismiss the government.’

“There is no evil plan and no one plans to interrupt them,” he said, adding that if there still are some fears and in April the government is threatened by crisis, UNM is ready to sit down and talk. April will be the seventh month after the parliamentary election, which means that the president will be free to dismiss parliament, under the current constitution.

UNM’s condition is to stop the harassment of the opposition and also to guarantee and free people from fear that the country might change its Euro-Atlantic course.

Vano Merabishvili, Secretary General of the UNM today stated that he suspects that Georgian Dream will implement ‘serious repressions against the National Movement factions’ in order to obtain quorum in parliament.

He says if parliament in next few days adopts constitutional changes, this will mean that the prime minister has abused his position and threatened and blackmailed many of the members of parliament.

“I call on the government to stop its hunt of the opposition and carry out its duties, which Georgian Dream promised in the election period.” Merabishvili called on the government not to abuse its powers.

The judiciary committee will review the bill at 13:00 today.



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