The Parliament has been called for revising a provision in the bill on local self-governance, which allows municipal and city councils (Sakrebulo) to vote out directly elected mayors and heads (gamgebeli) of municipalities.
Such a provision “weakens importance of institution of directly elected mayors and gamgebelis,” reads a joint statement by International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) and Transparency International Georgia.
The bill, which was passed with its first reading last week, envisages direct election of mayors in twelve cities, as well as direct election of gamgebelis of all the municipalities.
According to the bill Sakrebulo will be able to launch procedures for impeaching directly elected mayor/gamgebeli upon the initiative of at least half of its members or upon a written request of at least 20% of voters registered in a respective municipality or town. Two-thirds majority of Sakrebulo members will be required to vote out mayor or gamgebeli.
According to the bill Sakrebulo will not be able to launch impeachment procedures six months after the elections and in a period of one year before the next elections. If impeachment procedures fail to result into voting out of a mayor or gamgebeli, repeat procedures cannot be held within next six months, according to the bill. According to authors of the bill, who say that this provision represents checks and balances mechanism on the local level, impeached mayor or gamgebeli will be able to again run for the post in early election after his or her impeachment.
But GYLA, ISFED and TI Georgia said in their statement that this mechanism will make directly elected mayors and gamgebelis overly dependent on Sakrebulos and goodwill of political parties, making up respective Sakrebulo, in order not to give them a reason to launch impeachment procedures.
“As a result of giving such an authority to Sakrebulo will cause the same reality that is stipulated by the existing code, wherein Sakrebulo chairperson can dismiss gamgebeli with an approval from Sakrebulo – regrettably there have been numerous similar cases throughout 2013. Such a provision downgrades significance and substance of direct election [of mayors and gamgebelis],” reads the statement.
UNM parliamentary minority group has also spoke out against the provision allowing Sakrebulo to vote out directly elected mayors and gamgebelis.