TBILISI, DFWatch – The parliament in Georgia Tuesday once more modified a set of constitutional changes which were meant to let Saakashvili’s main competitor participate in elections.
At the second hearing, Vakhtang Khmaladze, legal expert and representative of the non-governmental organization Georgia’s Development Research Institute, said that the new version probably won’t let Bidzina Ivanishvili fully participate in the political process, so the bill will be passed on to the third hearing where it will probably once again be amended.
At the second hearing, parliament reviewed a new bill, according to which it will not only be Georgian citizens who have a right to participate in the next elections for parliament and president, but also EU citizens who were born in Georgia and have lived here for the last five years.
The idea was floated to amend the constitution after Ivanishvili was denied citizenship through naturalization April 4. The parliamentary faction the Christian Democrats proposed to solve Ivanishvili’s problem by giving him right to participate in elections without being a Georgian citizen.
According to the current law, a non-Georgian citizens doesn’t have active and passive election rights nor the right to get involved in politics.
The bill was changed several times before the Tuesday’s hearing. First the government amended it to sound like this: ‘A citizen of an EU member country will have rights to vote and participate in elections before January 1, 2014, if he or she was born in Georgia and has been living in the country for the last ten years.’
But Ivanishvili pointed out that he hasn’t been living in Georgia for the last ten years and he won’t be able to make use of the new regulation.
The ruling party claimed that their amendments were made particularly to fit Ivanishvili, so that ‘elections were competitive and fair and he wouldn’t be able to present himself as victim as if he is restricted to participate in elections.”
Legal expert Vakhtang Khmaladze says that amendments are still not enough for Ivanishvili to fully get involved in the process.
He explains that the 29th article of Georgian constitution says that each Georgian citizen is able to hold any state position if he or she satisfies conditions defined by legislation. A Georgian citizen, who is at the same time citizen of another country cannot become Georgian President, Prime Minister or Speaker of Parliament.
“This means that a non-citizen won’t be able to hold those positions, including a person who will use the new regulations, because it applies only for the right to participate in elections,” Vakhtang Khmaladze says, adding that the new regulation also doesn’t provide participation in political processes like setting up political party or financing.
It should be noted that this issue was raised at the session by Levan Vepkhvadze, a member of the Christian Democrats.
Pavle Kublashvili, head of Parliament’s Judiciary Committee, noted that it is not necessary to add something to the law, because the 29th article of the constitution applies to other persons too: Georgian citizens and not persons which will be defined by the new amendments.
He says if the changes defines that EU citizens will have the right to participate in presidential elections, it automatically means that he will be able to become president.
As for Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament, Kublashvili says that the new amendments will define that persons, who will use new regulations, will have the right to hold those positions and actively get involved in political processes.