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Group Criticizes Draft of Constitutional Amendments
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 24 Jul.'10 / 14:59

Draft of constitutional amendments came under fire from a group of legal experts and civil society representatives united in an organization known as public constitutional commission, saying that the proposed draft does not provide increase of parliamentary powers, as claimed by its authors.

Authors of the draft of constitutional amendments, developed by the state commission on constitutional reform, say it would provide "mixed governance" where the President will act as "an arbiter" between the legislative body and executive government, led by Prime Minister elected from the ranks of a party, which will garner most of the votes in the parliamentary elections.

Member of the state commission and a senior ruling party lawmaker, Pavle Kublashvili, who supported the draft, said that the amendments will secure creation of “a mixed system, more inclined towards the parliamentary system.”

In parallel to the state commission, an alternative group – public constitutional commission - was established last year by figures, mainly those critical to the authorities, to develop a draft of the new constitution.

Mindia Ugrekhelidze, a former chairman of the Georgian Supreme Court and a member of the public constitutional commission, said the draft, proposed by the state commission, created an impression that it would increase Parliament’s powers, but in fact no substantial change would occur.

In a statement on July 23 the public constitutional commission said that the draft would leave the Parliament as “powerless, as it is now.” The commission, however, also acknowledges that the exception is the case when a government is being formed after the parliamentary election, when the source of formation of the executive branch is the Parliament. Otherwise, the commission said, it would still be “easy to dissolve” the Parliament if the latter decides to pass vote of no confidence.

The commission says most of the powers will still remain under the executive branch with only difference that instead of the President, as it is now, it will be the Prime Minister, who will hold most of the authority.

The public constitutional commission also criticized the draft for keeping the rule under which governors in the provinces are appointed and not elected. Under the proposed draft governors will be appointed by Prime Minister, instead of President as currently.

The public constitutional commission also stresses that the proposed draft does not provide increased rights for opposition in the Parliament and says that setting up of investigative or other type of ad hoc commission will still remain solely on the will of the ruling majority. The proposed draft simplifies the process of initiation of setting up of investigative commission, as one fifth of lawmakers, instead of current one fourth, will be needed for that purpose.

The public constitutional commission also complained that the draft did not address measures required for “creating free and fair election environment”
 
The public commission also criticized decision to remove category of organic law from the draft of constitutional amendments. For passing in the Parliament organic laws require higher quorum, than ordinary laws. The commission members said that by removing this category of laws, the government was paving way for easier option of passing legislature in the Parliament.

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