TBILISI, DFWatch–The governing coalition in Georgia says parliament will listen to President Mikheil Saakashvili’s annual address as soon as a set of recently passed constitutional amendments are signed into law and enforced.
February 8, Saakashvili should have held the address in parliament, but the Georgian Dream coalition, which recently won an overwhelming majority in an election, postponed his speech indefinitely, saying that it would be better if the president would wait until after the constitutional amendments had been adopted.
The amendment were passed on Monday at the third hearing, and deals with limiting the president’s ability to choose a caretaker government if he dismissed the government and calls a snap election for parliament. There is a theoretical possibility that Saakashvili may do this in a few week’s time.
Saakashvili chose to hold the address nonetheless, but at the National Library in Tbilisi instead of parliament. The event turned into a dangerous situation as activists for and against the president clashed together in a massive street fight before the speech was to have been held. Several people were injured, including Chiora Taktakishvili, a female MP from Saakashvili’s UNM party. The incident was condemned by both political blocs.
The president was criticized for planning a state of the nation address in a public space like the National Library, while the Georgian Dream coalition was criticized for postponing the annual address and blamed for lack of police protection, which it said had been offered but was turned down.
Despite the scuffle, the president held the speech the same evening at his own residence in Tbilisi, but afterwards he repeatedly expressed readiness to come to parliament and hold an address there, as he is obliged to under the constitution.
Speaker of Parliament Davit Usupashvili on Monday said that as soon as the procedure for adopting the amendment is completed and the president has signed the bill into law, parliament will welcome the president’s address.
He said consultations will immediately start over when to schedule his visit to the legislative body.
“We are faithful to what we say,” he added.