Despite Parliament’s endorsement two months ago of a probe into controversy over Sakdrisi gold mine, the legislative body failed on March 4 to adhere to its own decision after most, but not all, of the lawmakers from the Georgian Dream (GD) ruling coalition refused to vote for composition of the investigative commission, effectively blocking the probe.
A vote on March 4 on endorsing proposed members of the ad hoc parliamentary investigative commission was a second stage of two-step procedure required for setting up of the commission.
The first one was the vote on whether to support or not the investigation in principle to look into circumstances surrounding issuing of a permit to a gold and copper mining company, RMG, allowing it to carry out mining activities at Sakdrisi, which some archeologists believe is the world’s oldest gold mine.
In late December the decision in favor of launching the probe was endorsed with 58 votes to 14.
Unlike many of their colleagues from GD ruling coalition, Republican Party and National Forum lawmakers voted in favor together with opposition MPs from UNM and Free Democrats parties.
But while 58 votes were enough to endorse the parliamentary probe, composition of the actual commission needed a higher threshold of support – at least 76 MPs of 150-seat Parliament.
55 MPs voted in favor, 21 short of required.
It means that although the Parliament deemed it “appropriate” in late December to investigate circumstance surrounding Sakdrisi gold mine, no commission will be established for now to launch the probe.
The issue of composition of the commission was discussed by the Parliament on February 20, but at the time lawmakers were not able to put the issue on vote due to lack of quorum.
During those discussions, MP Nukri Kantaria of Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party, the largest faction with the GD ruling coalition, said that Sakdrisi “turned into the issue of political speculation” and although he had nothing against of proposed members of the commission, he was not anyway going to vote in favor because he was against of parliamentary probe.
MP Nino Goguadze of FD opposition party, which initiated launch of the parliamentary probe, said at the parliamentary session on February 20 that such a position of GDDG lawmakers was causing “bewilderment” as technically the vote was about proposed members of the commission and not about whether to launch or not the probe as this latter issue had already been decided positively in late December.
She also called on the lawmakers from the ruling coalition “not to become accomplices of an alleged crime” surrounding Sakdrisi gold mine by blocking the parliamentary probe.