How as Bekauri elected to the position of Chairperson?
The rules for electing the members of the GNCC are regulated by the Law of Georgia on Broadcasting. According to the law, the President of Georgia, taking into account the qualification requirements determined by this Law, agrees with the Government of Georgia on the list of candidates to be submitted to the Parliament of Georgia for election. The President of Georgia and the Government of Georgia selects at least three candidates for each vacant position. The agreement upon the list of candidates between the President of Georgia and the Government of Georgia is countersigned by the Prime Minister of Georgia, after which the President of Georgia submits the candidates to the Parliament of Georgia. A candidate nominated for a vacant position of a member of the Commission shall be deemed elected if he/she receives more votes than other candidates, but at least half of the votes of the members of the Parliament of Georgia on the current nominal list.
As we have already noted, Kakha Bekauri was elected as a member of the GNCC with the participation of the Parliament and Government of Georgia. Due to this, it can be argued that the Administration of the President did not verify whether Bekauri’s diploma was in line with the requirements set forth by the law. Moreover, the Government approved the selection without looking into the candidate’s potential lack of necessary qualifications. Notably, the Administration of the President sent Bekauri’s biography to the Parliament without actually holding any physical proof that Bekauri had indeed graduated with a degree in management. It is also important to note that the respective parliamentary committee hadn’t fulfilled its legal obligation to look into the compatibility of the qualifications of the candidate. The candidate suggested by the President was discussed at the committee hearing, including the biography of the candidate, but the protocol of the committee hearing shows that the committee supported presenting the candidacy of Kakha Bekauri to the plenary session. In this course of events and the absence of studying the required academic qualifications, Kakha Bekauri was elected with 83 votes as a member of GNCC.
Each branch of the government has the responsibility to select members of the GNCC. As it is evident by the documentation, no institutional body has verified or looked into the compatibility of the candidate’s academic credentials with the requirements stipulated in the law. This is troubling, especially given the fact that publications in the online media have numerously pointed to this incompatibility.
What are the next steps?
Documentation at hand points to the incompatibility of Kakha Bekauri’s academic qualifications with the criteria stipulated by the law as obligatory for holding the position of Chairperson of the GNCC. This should be sufficient for Kakha Bekauri to voluntarily resign as the Chairperson of the GNCC.
It is critically important for persons with respective qualifications to work at the GNCC, which is responsible for meeting the requirements stipulated in the legislation on broadcasting and telecommunications, conducting oversight and imposing sanctions in case of violations. In the absence of a required academic degree, Bekauri has already served four years out of his six-year term.
Notably, Georgian legislation does not envisage an impeachment procedure nor a verification procedure through the court system. To avoid such cases in the future, it is thus recommended for the aforementioned violation to constitute grounds for impeachment.
It is also important to analyze why the different branches of the government, as it is required by the law, did not look into and verify the academic credentials of Kakha Bekauri.