Parliament passed with its third and final reading on May 2 legislative amendment paving way for new members of board of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) to assume office while also keeping members of the old board in place as a separate body with reduced authority.
The move comes after the Constitutional Court ruled last month that Parliament’s previous decision on pre-term termination of authority of members of the old board was unconstitutional.
Parliament speaker, Davit Usupashvili, said that the new amendment “is 100% in line with the decision of the Constitutional Court.”
Lawmakers from the UNM parliamentary minority group disagree and voted against of the amendment. They wanted the members of previous board, who took seats several years ago upon nomination of then President Saakashvili and confirmation by then UNM-controlled Parliament, to be kept and be replaced gradually by newly elected members upon expiration of term of their membership.
The previous board will be renamed into “monitoring board” with an advisory functions and no decision-making authority, according to the newly passed legislation. The old board was already dysfunctional as it lacked required quorum to take decisions after two of its members quit in October, 2013.
The new nine-seat board still has two vacant seats. On May 2 the GD parliamentary majority group voted down again – for the fourth time already – a candidate picked by UNM parliamentary minority, Ninia Kakabadze. Another candidate picked by lawmakers outside the majority factions failed to proceed to voting stage due to procedural reasons.
Candidates for the new board were selected by an independent commission of civil society and media representatives and then picked based on quota system by GD parliamentary majority group; Public Defender; Adjara Autonomous Republic’s legislative body and lawmakers outside the majority factions. In a course of last four months and after three attempts the Parliament elected seven members – three of them were named by GD; two – by Public Defender; one – by legislative body of the Adjara Autonomous Republic and one – by UNM. But two seats, technically from UNM quota, still remain vacant; the new board is authorized to function with seven members. A new competition has to be announced to fill the vacant seats.