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Opposition Renews Calls for Banning Saakashvili to Run for PM
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 20 Sep.'10 / 23:46

 Labor Party called on other opposition parties on September 20 to join forces in demanding to include a provision in the draft of constitutional amendments, which will ban an incumbent President from running for key posts under the new model.

If the proposed draft is endorsed in its current form, it means that President Saakashvili "will stay in power for decades" by taking PM's post, whose powers will be significantly increased under the new model, Shalva Natelashvili, the leader of Labor Party said.

"No one is going to tolerate it," he said while speaking to Kavkasia TV's political talk-show. "In this case, the only way left for the Georgian people will be to overthrow the government. Do we want this? I think we don't; it will cause very grave consequences."

"Passing of the draft in its current form will put an end to any prospect for peaceful change of government," he added.
According to Labor Party's proposal an incumbent President should not have the right to take the post of PM, Chairman of Parliament or Chairman of Constitutional Court for five years after expiration of his presidential term in office. 

The Labor Party voiced similar proposal first time in June, calling for an outright ban for President Saakashvili to run for PM. In early July opposition Our Georgia-Free Democrats, party led by Irakli Alasania, also called to include a provision in the new constitution banning the incumbent President from being nominated as PM for at least five years. The state commission on constitutional reform, which developed the existing draft, said in response to this proposal that that such ban would amount to violation of a person’s, in this case of Mikheil Saakashvili’s rights.

At the time the issue failed to grab major attention of the political parties, but now with adoption of the constitutional amendments nearing, the issue may become one of the key political issues.

Opposition party, National Forum, announced on September 20 that it agreed with the Labor Party's proposal and expressed readiness to launch consultations on the matter.

Labor Party leader, Shalva Natelashvili, during his television interview on September 20 also criticized Venice Commission, Council of Europe's advisory body for legal affairs, which has been approached by Georgia to provide expertise on draft of constitutional amendments, for not calling the Georgian authorities to include the provision that would ban incumbent President from taking PM's post.

"As soon as the authorities, the Venice Commission and other corrupt rats from Europe or from the United States see that the opposition parties are united over this issue, it will change the situation for better," Natelashvili said.

During its visit to Georgia last week, the delegation from the Venice Commission said it would not recommend to include such provision in the constitution; it, however, also indicated that it was possible to include the provision if political parties deemed it necessary.

Meanwhile President Saakashvili again rejected allegations that he was modeling the new constitution on himself to retain power after expiration of his term in office in 2013.

"If I wanted to cling to power, there are other ways to do that - either a referendum seeking for third presidential term or transferring all the powers to PM," Saakashvili said in an interview with the Georgian weekly magazine, Tabula, published on September 20.

Although the proposed draft would transfer significant part of next President's powers to PM, the President will not become a mere ceremonial post, as it will still retain some of its powers, including in the field of the international relations, the armed forces and the situations of emergency, as well as in case of situation when government faces vote of no confidence.

Saakashvili also reiterated in the same interview that his goal was to secure retaining of power in the hands of his "reformers' team" after his second and final term in office expires.

"Deeds initiated by us need to be accomplished. So no one should be surprised that I will spare no efforts for ideology and reforms' team which I represent to remain in power after 2013," he said. "Who will be the country's leader after expiration of my term in office, it's only up to the Georgian people to decide in free and fair elections. What will be the choice of our society - it is too early now to speculate about it." 

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