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MPs waiting for debates

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, July 21
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s decision to take part in political debates in Parliament has sparked a lot of speculations and predictions among politicians and analysts. The Parliamentary opposition has decided to demand that the President veto the newly-adopted amendments to the law on Manifestations, Police and Administrative Offences. The leader of the Parliamentary minority, Christian Democrat Giorgi Targamadze, said before the debates, that he would demand the resignation of Saakashvili as Chairman of the ruling National Movement. “The misfortune of the Georgian political system is that the Georgian President represents the interests of one party both before and, even worse, after elections as well,” Targamadze told journalists on July 20, adding that the President should not belong to any party in order to prevent members of that party gaining undue privileges.

Another member of the Christian Democratic Party, Levan Vephkhvadze, said he would raise the issue of human rights violations. In particular, Vephkhvadze said he would name those people now on hunger strike and those imprisoned unlawfully. “These people are the proof of how Saakashvili’s Government acts,” Vephkhvadze said.

The Parliamentary opposition members say they do not expect any surprises from the President. “The hasty decision of the President to participate in political debates has raised some expectations that he has prepared proposals which will refresh the Georgian political atmosphere with more PR,” Giorgi Targamadze said. He excluded the possibility of the President appointing early Presidential and Parliamentary elections. “I do not expect any statements about elections from the President, except local government elections. Most probably [Saakashvili’s statement] will repeat the principles of his ‘second wave of democracy.’ This repetition before Vice President Biden’s visit is designed to present foreign mentors with what looks like a new package,” Targamadze suggested.

Ruling party MPs have also excluded the possibility of Saakashvili vetoing the law on demonstrations. MP Murtaz Zodelava said such expectations are “exaggerated”. “Preparing this draft was a joint decision by the parliamentary majority. The President is the leader of the party and there is mutual agreement in relation to this law,” Zodelava stated, adding that the changes in the law on Manifestations are logical and “important for the state”.

Political analysts suggest the President might propose holding early local elections. “It is possible that the President has decided to propose snap local elections from the highest tribune of the country –Parliament - and meet US Vice President Joseph Biden afterwards,” political commentator Ramaz Sakvarelidze has said. Speaking to The Messenger, Sakvarelidze did not exclude the possibility that Saakashvili would use his right to veto the law on Manifestations. “The ruling National Movement members have initiated these amendments, but fortunately however being part of a team does not always mean having the same views as the rest. So maybe the President will compromise and veto the newly adopted amendments,” Sakvarelidze said.

As for the suggestion that the President will make another “new wave of democracy” proposal, the analyst said “waves of democracy do not mean anything without real actions. Early elections will make no sense without some important changes in the election code and administration,” Sakvarelidze stated.