To trust or not to trust
The Central Election Commission (CEC) has officially allowed the opposition to collect signatures to conduct a referendum based on distrust for president Raul Khajimba. As the initiators of the campaign report, over 14 thousand signatures have been collected as April 1, even though the minimum requirement is only 10 thousand. The opposition does not intend to put a halt to the collection of signatures for the referendum.
The law envisages a two-month term for this procedure. Following this, the CEC will evualate the procured material during a two-week period and will set a date for the referendum if the desired goals are achieved. This process will take place over the course of three months. Pursuant to the acting legislation, the referendum will be carried out if a minimum of 50% plus one of citizens from eligible voters list to cast their vote in favor of the referendum.
Supporters’ arguments for declaring a vote of no confidence for president Khajimba
Signatures are being collected in all the districts of Abkhazia, except for Gali.
“We have excluded the Gali district because it is difficult to understand who has maintained the status of citizenship there and who has not. This was made as a conscious decision to avoid creating a mess and future questions that would surely arise, said Daur Tania, the head of the initiative group conducting the referendum.
The opposition believes that Raul Khajimba must give up his presidential powers before his term of presidency expires, since he has not complied with his pre-election pledges.
Aslan Bzhania, the head of “Apra Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies, offers his basic arguments. It should be noted that “Apra is one of four organizations which comprise the opposition bloc. Aslan Bzhania was the main opponent of the current president during the last presidential election in August 2014.
“During the election campaign, those who would eventually come to power, stated that their pledges would be carried out with a concrete timeframe. For example, Mr. Khajimba’s team pledged to increase the pension of Abkhaz pensioners to 15,000 RUB. However, this has not been done. One can object that the economic situation in the country and its surrounding areas has worsened. Yet, there are things that had to be done during that time and they were not linked to the economy, notes Aslan Bzhania.
Aslan Bzhania also recalls the agreement which was signed on an initiative of then-candidate for presidency, Khajimba. The Abkhaz government was to be formed according to that agreement. “Two governments have been formed since he came to power, but the agreement was ignored then and is currently being now.
“Why, for example, being the presidential candidate, did Khajmba say that the sale of flats to Russians would ruin our state, but after having come to power he affirms the contrary?
“Being in the opposition, the president said that a credit amounting to 700 million RUB, which was taken from Russia in 2011 to support the banking system, was was a poor decision, since the money was embezzled and did not bring any benefit for the country. At the same time, he praises the “APRA payment system, which was launched on that credit and claims that the system needs to be expanded.
Opponents’ arguments against declaring vote of no confidence for president Khajimba
“Raul Khajimba has made an attempt to lead the country out of this hard economic situation through his own efforts. Russia had promised financial support to Abkhazia, though it was not allocated last year. Nevertheless, the authorities stood tough in times of trouble. For the first time in a long time the attempt to exist independently and find domestic resources was made. We can’t unsee it, expresses Valeri Kvarchia, MP.
According to Aslan Kobakhia, an individual leader of the pro-presidential Forum of the National Unity of Abkhazia, president Raul Khajimba has not violated any part of the Constitution.
“There is a Constitution in Abkhazia, which clearly stipulates the president’s rights and duties. It contains 26 items in total. Two former prosecutor generals, who are, at this current point in time, the opposition’s chief lawyers, have not managed to find out what violations the president committed. They have invented a reason in order to carry out a referendum because they want to return to power as soon as possible, added Kobakhia.
The Abkhaz legislation concerning this issue is flawed and has many inconsistences.
For example, the Law on Referendum addresses the issue of confidence in the President, but under this law, issues such as the “abolition of state sovereignty in the Republic of Abkhazia, redefinition of its borders and territorial integrity, restriction of basic human rights and freedoms protected by the Constitution of the Republic of Abkhazia are taboo themes for the plebiscite.
Meanwhile, if the referendum is conducted and the majority of the electorate votes ‘no confidence’ for the head of state, it will not demand action for the President. He is authorized to choose what to do, whether to resign or to remain in his post because under the Constitution he is elected for a five-year term. If the President has not committed grave crimes or become disabled, he has a right to resign voluntarily ahead of the end of his term
The procedure for impeachment has not been fully elaborated. Nevertheless, the electorate is concerned with several inconsistences in the legislation.
Several days ago a signature collector for the referendum knocked on the door of political scientist, Rustam Anshba. “On the whole I am for the referendum, but now I am against it, Anshba said in an ambiguous statement and afterwards explained his position theoretically.
“Firstly, if the referendum is conducted and even if its outcomes are acknowledged by all sides, it will deliver yet one more blow to the electoral system. Any snap elections will lead to further destruction of the stable electoral system and complete collapse of the managing staff.
“Lack of new politicians is the yet another argument against the idea of holding a referendum. We all remember that changing the order of the addends does not change the sum. The course for both foreign and domestic development has been more or less determined for at least the next 10 years.
Meanwhile, the debates on the referendum idea have split the society in such a way that, as publicist Ibrahim Chkadua jokes, in order for the referendum idea to be deemed logical, the commencement of collecting signatures to nullify the referendum should be announced.
“How will the lawyers take such an initiative, especially since there is no Constitutional Court? It’s high time for sophistry and casuistry. I will not be surprised if many people vote aye and nay simultaneously.
The opinions expressed in this article convey the author’s views and terminology do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editorial staff.
Published on: 08.04.2016