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Presidenti's Office, პრეზიდენტის სასახლე. photo/ფოტო: Eana Korbezashvili/იანა ყორბეზაშვილი/civil.ge

President not to nominate Chief Justice, “for now”

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili has decided not to nominate the new Supreme Court chair for now, Giorgi Abashishvili, head of the President’s administration told reporters on August 24.

Abashishvili explained, that while the President tried to achieve broad public consensus over the Chief Justice’s candidate, such “consensus has failed to materialize for now.”

He also added that in the situation when the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party refused to participate in the consultations, naming of a candidate would not be “result-oriented”, hinting at the potential for the GD majority not endorsing the President’s preferred candidate in a parliamentary vote.

The President’s decision was criticized by local civil society organizations and political parties.

Sulkhan Saladze of Georgian Young Lawyers Association, a watchdog, slammed Margvelashvili’s decision as “very bad.” He explained that the failure by the President and Georgian Dream to engage in a dialogue harmed the entire judicial system. “Regretfully, by this decision the President has contributed to further complication of the process.”

Nino Lomjaria, Public Defender, said the President’s decision was “unjustified”, while MP Irakli Sesiashvili (GD) , chairman of the Parliament’s defense committee, said that by not fulfilling his constitutional obligation, the President demonstrated “his political weakness.”

MP Irakli Abesadze of opposition European Georgia noted that by his action, the President gave Georgian Dream a chance to endorse “an comfortable candidate [for itself], who will rule the court…by serving only the Georgian Dream’s purposes.”

MP Levan Bezhashvili of the opposition United National Movement emphasized that the President had already played a negative role when he named the outgoing Chief Justice Nino Gvenetadze (backed by GD), adding that the new chair should be named by the President supported by people through elections.

Consultations on selecting the candidacy of the Supreme Court chair were launched on August 6, four days after Nino Gvenetadze’s resignation for health reasons. The presidential administration held several consultations, including with representatives of rights watchdogs, legal circles and political groups, but no specific candidacies had been named.

On August 21, Georgian civil society organizations turned down Margvelashvili’s offer to present their candidate for new Supreme Court chair. Earlier, on August 15, the ruling party also refused to join consultations on selecting the candidate.

Under the current Constitution of Georgia, the President has to present the new chairmanship candidate to the Parliament, which will then have to endorse the nomination with at least 76 votes in favor. The new Constitution, which will come into force following the new president’s inauguration later this year, the right to nominate the Chief Justice will will pass to the High Council of Justice, the body overseeing the judiciary.

 

This post is also available in: Georgian Russian