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Speaker criticizes NGOs for asking President to veto Self-Government Bill

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, July 6
The Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Irakli Kobakhidze, has criticized local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) for asking the President of Georgia to veto the Self-Government Code Bill, adopted by Parliament on June 30 with its third hearing.

Kobakhidze claimed the representatives of NGOs had the opportunity to present their arguments and position regarding the reform but they did not used this opportunity.

“We asked non-governmental organizations to present arguments and counter-arguments about the self-government reform and they failed to present such counter-argument. Therefore, their current position is incomprehensible for us,” the speaker said.

The Self-Government Code Amendments, adopted by Parliament, envisages the reduction of the number of self-governing cities.

In particular, among fourteen municipalities, seven are self-governing cities: Zugdidi, Ozurgeti, Gori, Telavi, Akhaltsikhe, Mtskheta and Ambrolauri, which will lose their status and be transformed into municipalities.

The number of self-governing cities will be reduced from twelve to five. This means that during the local elections scheduled for this October, mayors will only be elected in Tbilisi, Batumi, Rustavi, Kutaisi and Poti, while the remaining cities will be left without a mayor.

As a result of the planned changes, there will be five self-governing cities and seven municipalities in the country.

The NGOs are against the changes and believe that this action will be a step backwards for the country. They say such amendments will reduce the quality of local democracy in Georgia.

“It is unacceptable to abolish the self-governing entities which were formed after 2014,” the letter of the NGOs reads.

The NGOs also ask the President to veto the legislative package and return it to Parliament with his motivated remarks.

The organizations claim that after the changes to the Self-Government Code, the local population has to be involved in the decision-making processes, which did not take place.

Moreover, the civil sector has filed a lawsuit to Kutaisi City Court, asking for the abolition of the amendments.