Parliament approved on September 11 with its first reading a constitutional amendment allowing ten opposition politicians to retake their parliamentary seats.
Last June total of twelve opposition politicians renounced their MP mandates in protest against ballot fraud, which they said took place in the May 21, 2008 parliamentary elections.
The measures would apply to only those ten politicians who were elected in the Parliament through party-list, proportional vote; two other politicians - Davit Gamkrelidze and Davit Saganelidze, both from the New Rights Party, will not be eligible as they won their majoritarian MP seats in single-mandate constituencies, which have already been filled after the two politicians renounced their mandates.
According to the constitutional amendment, those ten opposition politicians, to whom the measures would apply, can retake their MP credentials before January 1, 2010.
Ten opposition politicians, who will become eligible for the measure after the proposal is approved with its second and third readings, are as follows: Levan Gachechiladze, an individual opposition politician; Zviad Dzidziguri, Conservative Party leader; Koba Davitashvili, leader of Party of People; Eka Beselia of the Movement for United Georgia; Gubaz Sanikidze of the National Forum; Giorgi Khaindrava, an individual opposition figure; Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, leader of Party of Freedom and three politicians from the New Rights Party - Pikria Chikhradze, Mamuka Katsitadze and Irakli Iashvili.
None of them expressed willingness to retake their MP mandates. The Georgian media sources, however, recently reported that Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, the leader of Freedom Party, might agree. Gamsakhurdia, who is son of Georgia’s late President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, however, has not spoken publicly yet on the matter.
MP Pavle Kublashvili of the ruling National Movement Party said this initiative by the President was “a political decision” aimed at giving the opposition more political levers. He also said that this amendment should not set a precedent and such a measure should not reoccur in the future.
President Saakashvili first offered these opposition politicians to retake their seats in June, but they turned down the proposal. Saakashvili reiterated proposal again on July 20 during his address to the Parliament.
Lawmakers from the parliamentary minority said that although they were not against of giving an opportunity to opposition politicians retake their MP credential, but in general it was unacceptable for them to adjust the constitution to political goals.