Constitutional amendments proposed by PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition, if approved, will have “grave consequences”, President Saakashvili said on January 12.
Currently there are two drafts of constitutional amendments initiated in the legislative body – one about the Parliament’s location and another one about presidential powers under which President Saakashvili retains all of his current powers, except of the one which allows him to appoint new government even if the Parliament refuses to confirm President-nominated cabinet.
Although Georgian Dream coalition has enough votes in the Parliament to override a presidential veto, it still falls short of two-third majority required for passing constitutional amendments.
President Saakashvili mentioned briefly proposed constitutional amendments without going into details while speaking about, what he called, use of “dirty methods” by PM Ivanishvili’s government while trying to achieve its “destructive political goals”.
While naming two new provincial governors on January 12, President Saakashvili said that in an attempt to mobilize enough support in the Parliament for passing constitutional amendments, the new authorities were exerting pressure on UNM lawmakers to switch sides.
“The Prime Minister stated that if members of parliamentary minority do not vote for constitutional amendments, which I think will have very grave consequences for the Georgian statehood and which are not really in our national interests, they will destroy their own future. I do not know any civilized country where head of the government threatens lawmakers with these words,” Saakashvili said and added that MP Iasha Shervashidze quit UNM after his son was arrested on drug-related charges and UNM MP Marika Verulashvili was pressured to quit UNM and vote for proposed constitutional amendments otherwise threatened with the arrest of his husband.
Saakashvili was referring to PM Ivanishvili’s remarks during January 10 interview with Tbilisi-based media outlet, Obieqtivi, in which he said that GD should have no problems with attracting enough support in the Parliament for passing constitutional amendment about presidential powers. Ivanishvili said that current wording of the constitution allowing the President to sack sitting government and appoint his government even without Parliament’s approval was so undemocratic that even UNM lawmakers would vote in favor of changing it.
“I do not think there will be a problem with [mobilizing enough] votes, because I think that not a single lawmaker, even from the parliamentary minority, will dare to vote against. It is so obvious that this [provision] of the constitution is tailored to dictatorship,” Ivanishvili said. “There might be only few desperate [MPs] from the parliamentary minority who may criticize [proposed] amendment… [Voting] against it will destroy lawmaker’s future.”
Ivanishvili also said that the voting in the Parliament last month based on which formal procedures were launched for discussing proposed amendments on presidential powers, showed that UNM lawmakers were willing to engage in discussions over the draft. More than hundred lawmakers supported launch of procedures on December 28, which means that UNM lawmakers were also among them who voted in favor.