TBILISI, DFWatch–President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party members demand that the he uses his right to veto three important drafts which parliament currently is reviewing, one of which has already been passed.
The draft bill about court reform was adopted on Thursday. It contained a number of legislative amendments which the government claims will help depoliticizing the courts. The most important change in the reform is that the president and executive government won’t have a right to appoint their own candidates to the High Council of Justice, a body governs the courts in Georgia. Furthermore, the chairman of the Supreme Court will no longer have the right to also chair the High Council of Justice.
After the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission studied the draft bill and gave its recommendations, the bill’s authors adjusted their proposal and presented a revised version of it. But the opposition did not support this draft, and is now demanding that the president blocks the bill.
Giorgi Baramidze, a member of parliament from the United National Movement party, says he hopes that the president will use his power granted by the constitution to block the draft.
The second draft expected to be blocked by Saakashvili is the amendments to the Law on the Occupied Territories.
According to the current edition of the law, a person can only enter Georgia’s occupied territories after obtaining official permission from Tbilisi. If someone violates this condition, it is a criminal violation punished under the criminal code. This law was adopted after the war with Russia in August, 2008, and since then about 400 persons have been detained under this charge; however the majority of them were released after they paid a fine.
Bidzina Ivanishvili’s government claims that many people might not know that it is prohibited to enter breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia without official permission from Georgia and that they might be jailed. That’s why the new bill instead suggests that a person should pay a USD 240 fine for the first time offense, but if it is repeated, he or she will be detained.
MPs have discussed this bill for several weeks, and it should have been adopted last week, but was postponed, as Saakashvili’s party members are against it. Even though the Georgian Dream coalition has enough votes to adopt the law, they are still trying to negotiate. Davit Usupashvili, Speaker of Parliament, says that ‘important laws should be adopted through agreement.’
UNM members are still against the draft and the president is going to use his right of veto for this law as well.
“I remember what the Foreign Affairs Minister of Russia advised to Ivansihvili, to review the law on Occupied Territories,” Irma Nadirashvili from UNM says. “By revising this law, the majority does what he said. That’s why I do not exclude that the president will use his right of veto, but it is for him to decide.”
The third bill is about how to appoint the management of the Georgian Public Broadcaster. The bill aims to avoid politically motivated decision and prevent the GPB from working for the interests of a single party, which some would say it has been doing while Saakashvili held government power, although his party members deny it.
However, recently a member of the UNM appointed a recently dismissed chairman of news department of GPB as gamgebeli (local government head) in one of the regions in Georgia.
Those are the three bills which Saakashvili may block and it is expected that he will, as he has repeatedly expressed criticism of those bills.
In the end of 2012, Saakashvili vetoed an amnesty bill, but parliament overturned his veto and the law went into force in mid-January. Since then, about ten MPs have left his party’s factions in parliament. At present, the ruling coalition will have no problems overturning the president’s veto.