On October 9, Moscow-backed Abkhaz leader Aslan Bzhania signed a decree on the formation of constitutional reform commission, aimed to develop amendments to the Abkhaz “constitution,” involving reform of the state power and governance system.
Bzhania appointed a civil society activist and co-author of current constitution Natella Akaba to head 16-member commission, including Astamur Appba – a lawyer; Saida Butba – the deputy chief of presidential administration; Vitaliy Gabnia – a public figure; Givi Gabnia – deputy secretary of the security council; Said Gezerdava – a lawyer; Kama Jinjolia – a judge; Arda Inal-ipa – executive director of the Center for Humanitarian Programs; Tamaz Ketsba – a senior lecturer; Oleg Papaskiri – head of the legal department of the Bank of Abkhazia; Diana Pilia – a judge; Sergey Smyr – the dean of the law faculty of Abkhaz University; Astamur Tania – a historian; Batal Tabagua – a deputy; Alkhas Tkhagushev – head of the association Inva-Assistance; Daut Khutaba – Doctor of Law, a senior lecturer; Asida Shakryl – Abkhaz ombudsperson.
Earlier in September Akaba made the case for reforming the document in Abkhaz media, arguing that time for constitutional changes “has come”. Akaba noted that “first of all, this concerns separation of power between president, parliament and government. We need to balance the power, fairly distribute part of it from the president to parliament and the cabinet of ministers.”
Aslan Bzhania introduced the idea of constitutional changes soon after coming into power in April. Bzhania stated in early June that amendments to the “constitution” should be undertaken under revision of specialists so the changes “could help in dealing with a number of problems.”
The Abkhaz constitution has been adopted on November 26, 1994, roughly a year after Abkhaz side claimed victory in 1992-93 war against the Georgian Government and expelled the vast majority of ethnic Georgians from the region.
Since then, the “constitution” has been amended several times, lastly on March 29, 2016. During 2014 amendments, Kremlin-backed authorities formed the “constitutional court” and prohibited introducing amendments directed against Abkhaz “independence” and “territorial integrity.”