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Lack of Quorum Thwarts Parliament Committee Hearing into Supreme Court Chair Nomination
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 24 Feb.'15 / 11:41

Parliament committee for legal affairs failed twice on February 23 to hold a hearing in Tbilisi into Supreme Court chairperson nomination due to lack of quorum.

Last week President Giorgi Margvelashvili named former judge of Supreme Court, Nino Gvenetadze, as a candidate for the post of Supreme Court chairperson to replace Kote Kublashvili, whose ten-year term in office expired on February 23.

Before the nomination goes to plenary session for confirmation, requiring support of at least 76 lawmakers, hearing should be held in the legal affairs committee.

But only six out of 14 committee members showed up at a session in Parliament building in Tbilisi on Monday noon – two short of a quorum.

UNM lawmakers keep boycotting committee hearings held in Tbilisi in protest over partial relocation of Parliament from Kutaisi to Tbilisi.

Two committee members from the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority group were also absent. One of them MP Zakaria Kutsnashvili, who was one of the contenders for nomination on the post of Supreme Court chair, said he has decided not to take part in hearings on this issue because of, what he called, “conflict of interest”; suggesting that because he himself sought, unsuccessfully, the post, it would not be right for him to take part in hearings.

The committee hearing was rescheduled for Monday evening, but after having to wait for about an hour, the Supreme Court chair candidate, and others present in a committee room heard from committee chairman, MP Vakhtang Khmaladze, that he was not able to launch the session as the committee was again lacking quorum. 

President’s human rights adviser, Kakha Kozhoridze, who was present in the Parliament, criticized lawmakers, who did not show up, saying that it was “disrespect towards the process.”

“Hearing into nomination of Supreme Court chair takes place once in ten years.” Kozhoridze said. “This is a very important process and it is very regrettable that lawmakers have failed for second time today to hold the hearing.”

A lawmaker from Free Democrats opposition party, Shalva Shavgulidze, a member of the committee, also said that it was “disrespect.”

“It seems the parliamentary majority remains undecided [whether to support or not the nomination],” said MP Shavgulidze, who himself was one of the contenders for the Supreme Court chairmanship.

MP Shavgulidze said that he is supporting Gvenetadze’s nomination and his FD parliamentary faction is also likely to support.

Meanwhile, on Monday evening the GD parliamentary majority held a closed-door meeting to discuss President’s nomination of Nino Gvenetadze for the Supreme Court chair.

GD parliamentary majority leader, MP Davit Saganelidze, said that in general stance of GD lawmakers towards Gvenetadze was “quite positive”, but “there are also several MPs who have different opinion.”

“We will try to take decision with consensus,” he said, but also did not rule out that some GD lawmakers may vote independently, not in line with the parliamentary majority’s decision.

Parliament speaker, Davit Usupashvili of the Republican Party, who is visiting Croatia, said on February 23 that the issue of Gvenetadze’s nomination was discussed at a meeting of GD ruling coalition’s main governing body, political council, last week and there was “a positive stance” towards Gvenetadze, who was a member of the Republican Party.

“There is a positive stance towards the nomination – this is not only my position, but also of [GD’s] political council. But it is up to the Parliament to decide,” Usupashvili said. “I am very optimistic, because I believe that she is one of the most dignified candidates.”

UNM opposition lawmaker made it clear that they would not support Gvenetadze, because of her affiliation to a political group, the Republican Party, and because she was a judge of Supreme Court when the judiciary was engulfed in the corruption.

Session of the legal affairs committee has been scheduled for Wednesday noon.

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