Davit Bakradze, the parliamentary chairman, met with Irakli Alasania, leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats (OGFD) and a former Tbilisi mayoral candidate, on September 8 to discuss draft of constitutional amendments.
Bakradze chairs a group leading public discussions in run up to start of debates on proposed constitutional amendments in the Parliament.
“This meeting will be a good chance for my party to convey our position about the constitutional reform,” Irakli Alasania told journalists before the meeting.
“I am far from the opinion that this meeting will help to change the plan, which the ruling party has to making Saakashvili PM after his [second and final] term in office express [in 2013],” Alasania said.
In July OGFD, which is in favor of a presidential system, but also supports increase of powers of the Parliament, called on the state commission on constitutional reform, which developed the new draft, to include in its draft a provision that would ban the incumbent president from being nominated as prime minister for at least five years after the expiration of presidential term.
The proposal was rejected by the commission, citing that such provision would be violation of political rights, in this case of President Saakashvili’s rights if he decides to run for PM’s post.
“It was an issue-based discussion. We disagree on principles; proposed draft provides for more a parliamentary model with strong PM, but we support presidential system with strong parliamentary oversight. The proposed model is an attempt to tailor the new model personally on Saakashvili,” Alasania said after the meeting with Bakradze.
Davit Bakradze said that although positions differed, it was important that the differences were discussed through dialogue.
New Rights Party, a former partner to OGFD from now collapsed coalition Alliance for Georgia, said its representatives were planning to meet with Bakradze to discuss constitutional reform on September 9.
Republican Party, which along with New Rights and OGFD was also part of Alliance for Georgia, said it saw no reason in having meeting with the authorities on the matter. Davit Usupashvili, the Republican Party leader, criticized the proposed constitutional model and said that it would transfer powers from the next president to PM leaving Parliament powerless.
“Setting up of a constitutional commission [which developed the draft] was senseless, as it is yet another manipulation with the constitution by Saakashvili and there is no need for having a meeting [with Bakradze]. The final product tabled by the commission amounts to switching from one type of dictatorship to another type of dictatorship at the expense of the Parliament,” Usupashvili told journalists on September 8.
“These constitutional amendments have nothing common with democracy and are only designed to help Saakashvili stay in power,” Nino Burjanadze, former parliamentary speaker and leader of Democratic Movement-United Georgia, said on September 8.
Also on September 8, Davit Bakradze and other senior lawmakers met with foreign diplomats accredited in Tbilisi to present the proposed new constitutional model.
In July ten opposition parties called on the authorities not to hurry with adoption of a new constitution, saying that it should only be passed by a new parliament, which will be elected in 2012 elections. The authorities rejected the proposal.