President Giorgi Margvelashvili confirmed that there were differences between him and some other Georgian Dream ruling coalition members over the government-proposed bill postponing once again introduction of a new rule replacing current practice of compelled witness statements with questioning of witnesses only before court.
The proposal postponing introduction of the new rule for two years, till December 31 2015, which was condemned by rights groups, was passed by the Parliament in late December.
“I was of a different opinion and I was even considering more active interference in this process,” Margvelashvili said in an interview with the Georgian Public Broadcaster on January 29.
He did not elaborate, and was not asked either, what “active interference” implied, but there were rumors that the President was considering vetoing the bill, causing friction between him and the government.
Margvelashvili said that postponement in itself is not a problem, because introduction of high standards requires proper preparation in order to be technically ready for putting the rule in practice, but he added that there should be a clear action plan on how the authorities are preparing.
“Postponement for a reasonable timeframe is acceptable, but while postponing we should have a clear vision about what has to be done in this period before [the new rule] is introduced. The parliament speaker [Davit Usupashvili] said that such vision will be tabled soon and we are looking forward to it,” President Margvelashvili said.
He said that the issue was also discussed when he met representatives from several civil society organizations on January 23.
The President, whose powers were significantly cut under the new constitution at the expense of increasing Prime Minister’s authority, is expected to appear before the Parliament early next month to deliver his first annual address. Parliament speaker, Davit Usupashvili, said that the address is likely to take place next week, but an exact date has yet to be set.