Georgia's President Reluctantly Signs Constitutional Amendments

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili has reluctantly signed constitutional amendments that he had vetoed on October 9 -- including provisions that transform the country into a parliamentary system where the president is elected by lawmakers rather than directly by voters.

"It is extremely difficult for me to sign this constitution," Margvelashvili said at an October 19 press conference. "However, considering the country's internal and external challenges and the fact that we should take all steps to avoid possible destabilization, signing this document."

Parliament approved the amendments on September 26.

On October 13, lawmakers voted to ignore Margvelashvili's objections and overrode his veto.

Margvelashvili criticized the amended constitution as a "one-party" document aimed at solidifying the ruling Georgia Dream party's hold on power.

He said he would have preferred a "consensus-based document."

The constitutional amendments will come into effect after the country's 2018 presidential election.

Under the amended constitution, Georgia will switch to a fully proportional-election system by 2024 with a 5 percent threshold required for a party to gain parliamentary mandates.

Beginning in 2025, the president will be elected by a special council of lawmakers.

The sale of agricultural land to foreigners will be banned, and opposition parties in parliament will have the right to create investigative commissions.

Based on reporting by Civil Georgia and