Abkhazia: opposition clashes with president over new judge in Constitutional Court
A vote to confirm or reject a nominated judge to the Constitutional Court of Abkhazia has ended in a scandal and threatens the republic with a new political crisis.
The individual in question is Alisa Bigvava.
The rules are such: in order to be confirmed as a judge, the candidate must receive ⅔ of the vote of the parliament. At the last parliamentary meeting, 23 of 35 deputies voted for her. The parliamentary majority decided that this number was enough in order to confirm her position.
However, the opposition says that two-thirds of the 35 MP means she would have needed 23.333 votes. This means that the qualifying vote would be 24 MPs, not 23.
The peculiarity of the situation is that Bigvava was put forward by the opposition itself, according to a special ‘agreement’ made between the authorities and the opposition after an intense domestic political crisis in December 2016.
One of the points of the agreement was that the opposition would put forward two candidates for the Constitutional Court. One such judge put forward was Diana Pilia in the summer of 2017. However, several problems came about with the nomination of the second judge. Several nominated candidates that had been presented to parliament were unable to get the needed number of votes.
he authority of the Constitutional Court was in high demand in Abkhazia beginning in January 2018. A new political crisis had arisen – upon the decision of President Raul Khajimba, Georgian partisan Georgi Lukava was pardoned and handed over to Tbilisi. In response, protests took place near the parliament, and a special committee was formed to look into the issue.
However, the committee was unable to decide whether the president had gone beyond his constitutional authority in having pardoned the condemned for terrorism.
Parliament believes that only the Constitutional Court could solve this issue. However, for this to happen, the court must have a full bench and the last judge must be confirmed.
And here is the problem:
The opposition demanded back in January that the president temporarily suspend the head of his administration, Daur Arshba. Khajimba agreed in the beginning – and then denied the request.
Then, several opposition deputies refused to vote for the next judge of the Constitutional Court. They say that the president must first fulfill his promise and suspend Arshba.
The final decision in regards to the judge’s case has been indefinitely suspended. The most interesting thing is that the decision in this case can only be made by the Constitutional Court, which itself can’t act without a full bench.