A proposal to amend the constitution has been initiated in the Parliament, which, if approved, will allow billionaire opposition politician, Bidzina Ivanishvili, to run in the parliamentary elections this October without becoming a Georgian citizen.
The proposal was initiated by Christian-Democratic Movement, a leading party in a small parliamentary minority group; ruling party lawmakers’ comments on the proposal indicate that the authorities seem to be supportive to such amendment.
Speaking at a news conference on April 5 MP Giorgi Targamadze, leader of CDM and of a parliamentary minority group, said that the constitutional amendment was designed specifically for Ivanishvili and its goal was to secure pluralistic electoral environment.
He said according to the proposal a Georgian-born individual, who has lived in the country for last ten years and who is now a citizen of EU-member state can have the right to run for the parliament. He also said that the proposal should become part of already initiated draft constitutional amendment according to which the minimum age for becoming an MP will be reduced from current 25 to 21.
“The legal affairs parliamentary committee and a commission, which is in charge of public discussions of constitutional amendment, will start considering this issue from tomorrow,” ruling party MP Pavle Kublashvili, who chairs the legal affairs committee in the Parliament, said on April 5.
“I think this proposal is important in terms of putting an end to speculations about legal procedures [on citizenship] and to put an end to speculations as if someone is being restricted in rights to run in the elections,” MP Kublashvili added.
“It is our political goal to have absolutely open and absolutely free electoral environment; we have got acquainted with this initiative and we think that this initiative provides such opportunity,” another senior ruling party lawmaker, Giorgi Gabashvili, said on April 5.
Tina Khidasheli of Republican Party, which is part of the Ivanishvili-led opposition coalition Georgian Dream, said it was “cynical” to tailor constitution to a particular individual. She said that Ivanishvili had all the legal rights to be granted the Georgian citizenship and there was no need to amend the constitution to allow him to run for the parliament.
Ivanishvili, who met with a group of foreign diplomats on April 5 over his citizenship issue, said during the meeting, that the Christian-Democratic Movement was “an attachment” to the ruling National Movement party.
“By [proposing this initiative MP Giorgi Targamadze] wants to mislead the Georgian public and demonstrate that as if Saakashvili remains within the legal framework and as if he cares about me. By this proposal he [MP Targamadze] has shown that he is in fact an extension to the ruling party,” Ivanishvili said.