Ten opposition parties called on the authorities not to hurry with adoption of a new constitution, saying that it should only be passed by new parliament, which will be elected in 2012 elections.
“Substantive amendment of the constitution should be carried out by the Parliament, elected in new, fair electoral environment, which will enjoy with voters’ high level of trust,” a joint statement by ten opposition parties reads.
The statement was signed by Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM); Conservative Party; Democratic Movement-Our Georgia; Georgia’s Way; Industrialists; National Forum; New Rights; Our Georgia-Free Democrats; Party of People and Republican Party.
The state commission on constitutional reform, which was established in June, 2009, will meet on July 19 to discuss the final version of the draft, which will be sent to the President and the latter will then submit it to the parliament for consideration. An exact timeframe is not officially set when these procedures will be over, but reports say that the President may send the draft to the Parliament next month, which will be followed by a month-long formal public discussions - required for any constitutional draft law and afterwards the Parliament will start discussion of the draft in September.
"Very active discussions will start in the Parliament on Georgia's future constitution probably from this autumn," Davit Bakradze, the parliamentary chairman, said on June 20.
The state commission on constitutional reform approved a basic draft of the constitution on May 11, which envisages giving more powers to PM at the expense of the President. The draft triggered lots of speculation recently that Saakashvili was paving way for remaining in power after expiration of his second and final presidential term in 2013 by eying on PM's post.
President Saakashvili said in June that the new constitution "will not be tailored on personalities" and his goal was not to stay in power, but to secure “continuation of reforms” launched by the current leadership.
The ten opposition parties said in the statement that “hastily” passed draft would aim at “tailoring of the constitution” on Saakashvili, who would try to “maintain power.” They also said that “lengthy” and “in-depth” public discussions were required before passing the draft. “We are ready to contribute this important process,” the statement reads.
Although Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), the leading party in the parliamentary minority, joined the statement, it has slightly different position saying that it is possible to pass the draft by the sitting Parliament, but with one reservation. MP Giorgi Akhvlediani of CDM told Civil.Ge on July 19, that although the draft should be passed with the sitting Parliament, but there should be a provision, which would say that the draft will go into force if only the new Parliament, elected in 2012, will re-confirm the draft.
When the state commission on constitutional reform was established in June, 2009, non-parliamentary opposition parties – many of those, which signed the joint statement – were holding street protest rallies at the time and refused the joint the commission.
In parallel to the state commission, an alternative group was established by opposition-minded figures to develop a draft of the new constitution with focus on parliamentary system.