TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgian Speaker of Parliament Davit Usupashvili has started working at the old parliament building in Tbilisi.
The speaker explained it was only the first step in a gradual moving process.
“Parliament will be moved back to Tbilisi step by step,” he said, adding that he will be joined by more people there soon.
In 2011, President Saakashvili decided to have the national assembly in Georgia’s second city Kutaisi and the new building there was officially opened in May, 2012.
He claimed the reason was to develop the city, but others saw it as motivated by a wish to avoid Tbilisi, which was a stronghold of the opposition and frequent scene of massive anti-government demonstrations.
Usupashvili, from the Georgian Dream coalition which wrested power from Saakashvili in the election half a year later, said parliament will be moved back to Tbilisi, which remains the capital.
The location of parliament is written into the constitution, which therefore needed to be changed to accommodate Saakashvili’s decision. The new parliament is 250 km away from the capital, a distance it takes four hours to drive.
The Kutaisi building began being used after the parliamentary election in October 2012, but the executive government and other national bodies are located in Tbilisi. This distance between the legislative and other branches of the state complicates the work process, the governing Georgian Dream coalition argues.
The new government wants to move parliament back to the capital, but the process is complicated, because it requires another constitutional amendment and the Georgian Dream coalition doesn’t have enough representatives for that. And Saakashvili’s party, the National Movement, is against moving parliament back to Tbilisi.
The new government has still started refurbishing the old parliament building and preparations for its revival will end soon. Usupashvili said parliament in Tbilisi will be used for sessions of the parliamentary committees. Plenary sessions, though, will still be held in Kutaisi, because the constitution requires that they are held in the building that is legally the parliament, and that is the one in Kutaisi.
Members of the National Movement refuse to work at the parliament building in Tbilisi.