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Draft Self-Government Code

23.12.2013

 
Nino Devidze

On December 13, Parliament of Georgia passed the new bill on self-governance through first hearing. The bill, which aims at complying main principles of the European Charter on Local Self-Governance with the Georgian reality, intends to establish administrative arrangement of the Georgian territory and absolute self-governance via elections. 

According to the proposed bill, number of self-governing cities will be increased for the upcoming 2014 self-governmental elections. Besides five self-government cities (Tbilisi, Rustavi, Kutaisi, Poti and Batumi), the following cities will also receive the status: Telavi, Mtskheta, Gori, Akhaltsikhe, Ambrolauri, Ozurgeti and Zugdidi.
Population of the self-governing cities will be able to elect their mayors and district governors. According to the current edition of the law, mayors and district governors of the self-governing towns except Tbilisi are appointed by the chairmen of the municipal board based on the consent of the majority of board members.

The project lists procedures of declaring mistrust to the mayor and district governor. Mistrust is declared and mayor/district governor is resigned from the positions based on the initiative of more than half of board members and based on the written petition of at least 20% of registered voters. 

Part of public organizations criticized this part of the draft law. ISFED, Transparency International Georgia and Young Lawyers’ Association spread joint statement, where they underlined that the proposed bill undermines the significance of the elected mayors and district governors.

Elene Nijaradze of the ISFED said the authority of the municipal board to declare mistrust to the district governor/mayor contradicts the principle of direct election: “Similar authority disregards the principle of elections and the idea of the development of self-government institute. Besides that, resignation of the mayor/district governor according to this rule contradicts the will declared by the population and it might create politically instable environment because they might represent different political parties and it increases possibility that municipal board will actively use the mistrust mechanism.”
In accordance to the draft-law, regional governors will be appointed by the government. Initially, the bill intended to create regional councils, whose members will be representatives of the municipal boards from the region. According to the bill, regional governors were accountable not only to the government but to the councils too, which had authority to request positional responsibility of the regional governors before the government. However, this part of the law caused concern of the society. Patriarch of Georgia responded to the issue and noted that regional councils might encourage separatism and give push to the disintegration of the country. “If it is adopted, it will lead us towards disintegration of Georgia. I want to kindly request the Parliament and Government of Georgia to consider this threat and not to harry up in passing the law,” Ilia II said. Finally, the bill authors removed this part from the document. 

MP Tamar Kordzaia from the parliamentary majority criticized the Patriarch’s statement and noted that Ilia II interferes in the government’s functions. “When Patriarch calls on the government to be cautious and not to hurry up when adopting the Self-Government Code, he would also consider the risk caused by his statements after preaches.”

Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure said establishment of public councils was postponed and the government will return to this topic before 2015 by all means. As for the financial maintenance of the local self-governments, the Ministry intends to elaborate relevant draft-law by September 2014. 
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