Senior Official on Constitutional Reform
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 12 May.'09 / 15:46

Gigi Ugulava, an influential mayor of Tbilisi and a close ally of President Saakashvili, said on May 12, that the authorities were offering the opposition to develop jointly draft of new constitution “in the shortest timeframes.”

He said that the new constitution would envisage increase of the parliamentary powers giving the legislative body right to compose the government.

“What we offer them [the opposition] is a commission on constitutional reform, chaired by an opposition representative; that means that new constitution will be tabled in the shortest timeframe,” Ugulava said. “This new constitution will significantly increase powers of the parliament at the expanse of the presidential powers… The government will be composed by political forces, which will win in parliamentary [elections] and president will not participate in this process.”

President Saakashvili said after talks with opposition on May 11 that he had offered opposition number of proposals including to launch discussions on constitutional reform to create “balanced system, in which there will be place for both the strong president and the strong parliament.”

Ugulava also said on May 12, that early elections “in the existing situation” was not possible, citing that early elections, both the presidential and parliamentary, had already been held last year and also because of “the economic crisis.”

“The third major reason is that after the elections, if not these, other political groups will come out with the same demands and mistrust; such a development will lead us to further escalation and will entirely undermine the situation. Therefore, at first we should all jointly draft an election code on which all the key stakeholders agree and then we should test this [election code] on upcoming local elections. We have offered [the opposition] to hold these local elections [in spring, 2010], earlier than originally scheduled [in autumn, 2010].”

He also said that the local elections would be a good opportunity for the political parties to also test their capacity. Ugulava added that after that it would be possible “to speak about the parliamentary elections.”

He also expressed hope that “a common sense would prevail within the radical opposition leaders and healthy negotiations, which have no alternative, will start.”

Meanwhile, Dimitri Shashkin, the minister of prison system and probation, who in his capacity of negotiator with the opposition attended talks with the opposition leaders on may 11, said that the authorities were ready to start working together with the opposition on draft of new constitution without delay.

“The President has stated it clearly that we will carry out democratic reforms no matter whether the radical opposition engages in the process or not,” Shashkin said on May 12.

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