The ruling Georgian Dream party has failed to impeach President Salome Zurabishvili, with 86 MPs voting in favour of impeachment, short of the required 100.
The impeachment vote went ahead on Wednesday in parliament despite the ruling party apparently failing to secure the required support from opposition MPs to oust the president.
Impeachment requires the votes of at least two-thirds of the total number of MPs. The vote saw 86 supporting impeachment with one voting against. The remaining opposition MPs either did not vote or boycotted the session entirely.
The result means parliament will be unable to vote again to impeach President Zurabishvili on the same charges.
On Monday, Georgia’s Constitutional Court ruled that Zurabishvili had violated the constitution by making official visits abroad in August and September, after the government refused to grant her official permission to do so.
Wednesday’s session was attended by Georgian Dream Chair Irakli Kobakhidze, who said that ‘if Salome Zurabishvili had retained her basic dignity, she would have resigned’.
‘She will remain exclusively the president of the [opposition United] National Movement; what is the value of the presidency in such conditions? judge for yourself’, he said.
In her address to parliament during the session, Zurabishvili denied violating the constitution, and stated that the vote would harm Georgia’s ‘European future’.
‘I will not be deprived of anything by this process. Today, not my fate, but your fate is decided. You are not impeaching me, but yourself, the country, its European future, and every one of your votes [in favour of impeachment] is a vote against this future of ours’, said Zurabishvili.
The session was boycotted by most opposition groups in parliament, including the largest opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), Strategy Aghmashenebeli, For Georgia, and the Eurooptimists.
Girchi and the European Socialists registered to vote on Wednesday, while Lelo and the Citizens parties attended but did not take part in the vote.
Independent MPs Teona Akubardia and Tariel Nakaidze were also present at the discussion.
Following the Constitutional Court’s verdict that she had violated the constitution, President Zurabishvili has insisted she would not resign.
The following day, she vetoed controversial amendments to Georgia’s protests law that would ban the erection of tents or ‘temporary structures’ during protests, as well as strip Otar Partskhaladze, a US-sanctioned former Prosecutor General, of his Georgian citizenship.
Partskhaladze, who served as Georgia’s Prosecutor General for a month and a half in 2013, was sanctioned by Washington for ‘operating or having operated in the management consulting sector’ of Russia’s economy, and in relation to Russia’s ‘malign influence’ on Georgia.
[Read on OC Media: Scandal-ridden Georgian former prosecutor sanctioned by US]
A few hours before the session began, the Presidential Administration also criticised parliament for not allowing foreign diplomats to attend the session.
Before Zurabishvili’s impeachment was put to the vote, Transparency International Georgia accused the ruling party of attempting to ‘sabotage Georgia’s European integration process’.
The EU is set to make a decision regarding Georgia’s EU membership candidate status in November.