The new parliament building in Kutaisi was opened in 2012. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–The Judiciary Committee in parliament supports a constitutional amendment to move parliament back to the capital Tbilisi.

For the last year and a half, parliament has been located in Kutaisi, in western Georgia.

Thursday, the Judiciary Committee reviewed the amendment. The hearing was not attended by representatives of the minority National Movement party who left the session as a sign of protest. The National Movement is against moving parliament back to Tbilisi.

MPs from the governing Georgian Dream coalition explain that in order for parliament to work properly it is important that it is close to the executive power, the government, which is in Tbilisi.

Commission chairman Vakhtang Khmaladze said it is important to move parliament back to the capital. He said there are few examples in other countries of having the government in one city and the parliament in another, and where this is the case, the work of parliament is ‘somewhat interrupted.’

“I also want to mention that the building that we are in now is not finished,” he said during the session. “It is also not correct when they say that Kutaisi will have problems if parliament will be moved.”

Khmaladze also says that it is necessary to remove the part of the Constitution where it defines the location of parliament. He thinks that the location issue should be defined by parliament and its regulations, not by the Constitution.

A few days ago, locals held a rally outside the parliament in Kutaisi demanding that the building continues to host the national assembly, because they think it is good for the city’s development, under the slogan “Don’t take parliament away from us”. Another protest rally is held today.

Parliament was moved to Kutaisi during Saakashvili’s government, a decision made by the president. A first symbolic session was held on May 26, 2012, but regular sessions started after the parliamentary election in October 2012. The building process was marred by accidents, and is still not completed.

The new government, which was against moving parliament to Kutaisi, is rehabilitating the old parliament building in Tbilisi, hoping to reopen it by February. But in order to change the regulation in the Constitution, the coalition needs the votes of the opposition party, because Georgian Dream doesn’t have enough seats to make constitutional amendments. In order to adopt constitutional changes more than 100 votes are necessary out of 150.