Georgian parliamentary minority supports constitutional amendment with condition

2013-02-04 17:40:13 GMT2013-02-05 01:40:13(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

TBILISI, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- The minority of the Georgian legislature has offered to support the majority's move to amend the country's constitution concerning the presidential powers on condition of continued foreign policy toward NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) integration.

Parliamentary minority leader and former speaker Davit Bakradze said the minority was ready to discuss with the majority about the issue of presidential power to dissolve the parliament and government in April.

"We are ready to free the government of this fear," he said. " We are ready to vote in favor of the constitutional changes, if the government frees the Georgian population of the fear that our country's Euro-Atlantic future is in danger."

The parliamentary majority has already tabled a constitutional amendment aimed at reducing a certain presidential power to unilaterally dissolve the government and parliament within six months of the legislative polls.

Georgia held its parliamentary elections in October last year and some Georgians have already started worrying about the political situation of their country, especially in the month of April.

Parliamentary majority leader Davit Saganelidze told a briefing on Monday that the majority had already presented to the parliament for vote this week the draft constitutional amendment.

The draft, according to Saganelidze, had been under discussion at the 150-seat unicameral parliament since December.

The majority leader told the press that even if the majority fails to get the necessary number of votes sufficient for adopting the constitutional amendment, the democratic world would see that the parliament is dealing with a "dictatorial" regime.

Saganelidze on Monday cited a Venice Commission 2004 assessment of Georgian democracy and quoted commission president as saying that there are some amendments which cannot be postponed and should be adopted immediately to provide stable operation of the government and parliament.

Venice Commission President Gianni Buquicchio visited Tbilisi on Jan. 31.

"I understand that for the sake of stability of the government and the parliament after the last parliamentary elections, it is necessary to change the constitution in order to limit powers of the head of state to dismiss the government and appoint new government without the authorization of the parliament," said Buquicchio after the visit.

The Commission chief also noted that though there were urgent issues in the constitution that required to be addressed, he did not believe the Georgian president would have an intention to dismiss the government.

The current regulation requires 100 votes from the lawmakers to pass any constitutional amendment. The regulation was made while the former ruling United National Movement party held 119 seats of the 150 available in the legislature.

Now opposition, the United National Movement has called for uplifting the bar for passing future constitutional amendments from the current 100 votes to 113 votes. A constitutional amendment to such extent was passed in December 2011 but will not go into force until December this year.

The ruling coalition Georgian Dream now has enough votes to override a presidential veto but falls short of the constitutional majority.

It last overruled a presidential veto in December with 91 votes. The coalition has 82 lawmakers in the legislature. The former ruling party has 56 lawmakers.

The ruling coalition moved to present a constitutional amendment which aims at reducing the presidential power of unilaterally dissolving the government and parliament.

The parliamentary majority on Monday appealed to all lawmakers to voice their "yes" or "no" on the question whether they support or oppose the majority-proposed constitutional amendment.

"Our attitude toward each of them (opposition MPs) will depend on their answers - we deem it sensible to cooperate and engage on other issues as well with those who will give 'yes' answer, but we cannot waste our time on listening and debating on any other issue as well with those who will give 'no' answer," read in part the majority appeal.

Minority leader Bakradze said Monday that despite the pressure opposition lawmakers had faced to switch sides, the ruling coalition would fail to get enough votes in the parliament to pass the proposed constitutional amendment.

The opposition United National Movement said it was ready to help remove the government's fear of being dissolved by the president in exchange for ruling coalition's support for the opposition's proposal to make it constitutionally-binding that no government of Georgia would leave the course of NATO and European Union integration and join Russia-led institutions such as the Commonwealth of Independent States.

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