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Appeal to President to veto changes in self-government code

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, July 3
Georgia’s leading NGOs have appealed to the President of Georgia to veto changes to the Local Self Government code, which refers to annulling self-government status for several cities.

The President’s representative says the NGOs position “is very important” and President Giorgi Margvelashvili will consider the appeal.

"From the very beginning, the President of Georgia was sceptical about the changes concerning self-government and self-governing cities. We will consider the appeal of the NGOs. We will see the package adopted and we will consider the option of not signing the proposal," said Ana Dolidze, the President’s Parliamentary Secretary.

NGOs claim that annulling the status of seven self-governing cities “would be a step backwards and a stroke for the state's decentralisation”.

The civil sector, as well as the current ruling team, has stated for years that one of the ways for developing the country is decentralisation, as making key solutions by the central government hinders processes in the regions.

The Prime Minister stressed that merging several municipalities would cause a reduction in the regions’ budgets.

Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili stated the main reason for the merger was that giving the status to the seven cities failed to justify the step and provide better economy in the areas or similar.

For now, there are 79 municipalities in Georgia; twelve self-governing cities and 67 self-governing communities among them.

In 2014, the Georgian leadership increased the number of self-governing cities from 5 to 12.

If a change comes into play, for this year’s local elections there may be again 5 self-governing cities with their mayors: Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Rustavi and Poti.

Meanwhile, Zugdidi, Ozurgeti, Gori, Telavi, Akhaltsikhe, Mtskheta and Ambrolauri may lose the status.

If the President vetoes the bill the majority has an opportunity to override it, as at least 76 votes are required for overriding when the Georgian Dream ruling team has 116 lawmakers in the 150-member legislative body.