TBILISI, DFWatch–President Mikheil Saakashvili says he sees his role as different now than when he was in government.
“My goal is to watch over the framework of our constitution and ensure that the government has an effective opposition and that the opposition isn’t destroyed,” he said speaking on Imedi TV Friday.
What happened the day before was a perfect example that this has not happened, as he saw it.
Thursday, a set of constitutional amendments were passed in parliament during two hearings. They took away the president’s right to handpick a caretaker government in case he uses his power to dissolve parliament and announce a snap election, which he will be able to for a ten day window in April. After the amendment, the present government will continue as caretaker government during the interim period.
This is significant because a caretaker government would be in charge of organizing the election, and previous Georgian governments have a record of grossly manipulating the election process.
Saakashvili’s party was opposed to the amendments, but Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s political coalition agreed to the UNM’s demand to hold a test vote to confirm that the coalition didn’t have enough votes to pass the amendments on its own. The final confirmation of the amendments is planned for Monday.
During Friday’s TV interview he said that he also follows the court reform and legislative amendments and if Ivanishvili’s coalition will support the current bill about common courts, the president will use his right to veto and block it, like he did with the amnesty in December, 2012.
Leaders of the Georgian Dream coalition say that the draft bill about common courts will finally free the courts from the influence of the president. Saakashvili is opposed to the bill, which will change the role of the High Council of Justice, a body with power to sanction individual judges.
After coming to power as a result of the Rose Revolution in 2003, the United National Movement amended the constitution and increased the power of the president. This was later criticized. In 2010, another amendment was made to the constitution, which reduced the power of the president while increasing that of the prime minister; however those amendments will only come into force only after the presidential election later this year.
In 2010, it was thought that after finishing his last term as president, Saakashvili would go on to become prime minister. He never confirmed nor denied this.
On Friday he said that he will remain in politics when his term is over and that the motivation for this is to not let things collapse but “continue building”. Saakashvili has compared himself to the historic Georgian king David the Builder.
He said he had specific plans, and if the National Movement had won the parliamentary election in October, 2012, he planned to leave politics, but now things are different.
“First of all we have to keep a democratic system which today creates many problems, and let’s not lie to ourselves. That’s why it is worth to stay, at least because we have to keep what we have,” he said.
He did not name who will be the UNM’s candidate in the presidential election in October, but said this will be decided through internal debate and TV debates. He was asked whether it might be Vano Merabishvili, the former interior and prime minister who is currently UNM secretary general.
“Vano Merabishvili is a very important leader, but democracy creates leaders. Vano is my closest co-fighter and I love him very much, but I also have close relations to the others,” he said.