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Georgian Opposition: Rurua’s Release Precondition to Back Electoral Changes

On June 8, the Georgian opposition parties published a joint statement, reiterating that the release of Giorgi Rurua, alleged political prisoner, is a precondition for them to endorse the constitutional amendments on electoral reform as envisaged by March 8 agreement.

The signatories of the statement include, among others, United National Movement’s Grigol Vashadze, European Georgia’s Davit Bakradze, Republican Party’s Khatuna Samnidze, Labor Party’s Shalva Natelashvili, Lelo’s Mamuka Khazaradze, Girchi’s Zurab Japaridze, as well as recently pardoned Irakli Okruashvili of Victorious Georgia.

In the joint statement the opposition parties stated the readiness to support the initiated constitutional changes, albeit only in case the March 8 deal will be “fully implemented.” They noted that the agreement will not be considered fulfilled “as long as political prisoner Giorgi Rurua [shareholder of pro-opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV] remains in prison.”

The opposition said “government-run media [recently] initiated a campaign” to “discredit Giorgi Rurua,” which as they claim represents an action to “politicize the justice system.” This, reads the joint statement, “contradicts the March 8 agreement and threatens the political consensus reached.”

Concluding the statement, the opposition leaders called on the government to fulfill March 8 Agreement to create “a less polarized environment for the 2020 elections and to strengthen democratic values”.

Passing constitutional amendments in the Georgian Parliament requires the support of 113 lawmakers. There currently are 149 MPs in the Parliament, with Georgian Dream enjoying the largest representation with 93 seats. The UNM has 7 deputies, the European Georgia – 19, the Alliance of Patriots and Social Democrats have 7 MPs. “The Independent Deputies” faction is comprised of 6 lawmakers. Additionally, there are 17 unaffiliated lawmakers, many of whom broke off from GD.

Theoretically, the Georgian Dream (93 MPs) can still amend the constitution without the support from UNM and European Georgia (26 MPs), in case it secures 20 out of 30 remaining votes.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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