Georgian Parliament overrides Presidential veto on Amnesty law

David UsupashviliIn a move unprecedented in Georgia’s modern political history, the Georgian parliament has overridden a Presidential veto, and enacted into law an amnesty that affects all of Georgia’s large prison population except those serving a life sentence.

On Sunday, 13 January 190 persons who the Georgian parliamentary had earlier declared to be political prisoners were released from prison. Amongst them were many who had been involved in various attempts to bring down the government of President Saakashvili over the last three years.

The long constitutional process started in December when the Parliament approved the amnesty law. President Mikheil Saakashvili refused to sign the law, and sent it back to parliament. In a second vote, which also showed how much the strength of the pro Saakashvili United National Movement had weakened in parliament since the October elections, the veto was overturned with 91 votes against 24. Three fifths of the members of parliament (89 MPs) were required by the Constitution for the presidential veto to be overturned.

The President then had until 11 January to sign the bill, and in case that he did not, the Chairman of Parliament had the right to sign it instead.

On 12 January, Parliamentary Chairman David Usupashvili signed the law in a televised event triggering the release of about 3,000 prisoners, as well as reduction of prison terms for thousands of others. More…

UNM parliamentarians walk out of Parliament.

Head of UNM faction in the Georgian Parliament, David Bakradze.

All 59 of the United National Movement (UNM) Members of Parliament walked out of the Georgian Parliament on 8 November in protest of the arrest of three senior defence officials (see story in this issue) on allegations of abuse and what they deem an unnecessary tax audit of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB).

David Bakradze, parliamentary leader of the UNM, told journalists on Thursday that his party would not work under the hostile conditions imposed by the Georgian Dream administration. After staging the walk out on Thursday, Bakradze stated that the UNM was suspending its work in parliament given the “current conditions” in which “the authorities are trying to establish control over the military and the televisions.” He did not specify under which circumstances the UNM parliamentarians would return. UNM lawmakers accuse the Ivanishvili administration of political motivations in these two developments, stating that the Georgian Dream fabricated the charges laid against the chief of staff of the military to put their own candidate in place. A charge which the government denies. More…

High hopes as committed democrat takes over key post.

The election of David Usupashvili as Chairman of the Georgian Parliament sends an important signal that the new Georgia embraces the rule of law.

In one of its first decisions after reconvening after the historic 1 October Parliamentary elections, the new Georgian Parliament elected David Usupashvili as its new Chairman. The election of Usupashvili sends a strong signal to Georgian citizens, and the international community at large that the new Georgian government will respect the rule of law and will submit itself to proper parliamentary scrutiny. More…