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Georgian Parliament Fails to Renew the Cabinet

Is Approved Government Transitional?

The Parliament approved the government members almost unanimously. New, but at the same time old ministers acquired more votes then they did previous time. Only 5 new ministers were included in the new government.

After approving the new government on December 4, Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burjanadze stated that the Parliament failed to use the opportunity to renew the government. “From now on the Parliament does not have the moral right to criticize the President for government’s poor performance”, she said.

Posts of the State Minister and Environment and Natural Resources Minister are still vacant. But based on experience of approving other ministers, the candidates, nominated by the President for these positions will not face any difficulties either.

“President’s statement saying this government is transitional, influenced our faction’s decision very much”, says leader of the pro-president faction Alliance for New Georgia Irakli Gogava. The faction declared free voting and supported almost all ministers. The Finance Minister was the only exception – 16 members of the faction out of total 17 voted against him.

All approved ministers might be divided into several principal groups. Ministers of Defense, Interior, State Security and Justice will be in the first group – the Parliament approved them unanimously. Each of these ministers acquired at least 200 votes.

Ministers of Culture, Education, Refugees and Settlement and Special Affairs are in the second group. Their ‘fate’ was mainly determined by the political processes in the Parliament. For instance, while discussing the candidature of Alexandre Kartozia for the post of Education Minister, Zurab Zhvania and other leaders of the Citizens Union faction called upon the Parliament to reject the candidature. However, because of this very statement the Parliament approved Kartozia.

Member of New Rightist Wings faction Pikria Chikhradze explains this with desire of “non-Citizen” part of the Parliament to reveal hidden arrangements of the “Citizens” with other parliamentary forces. “Even during electing new chairman the new majority started to shape up. We had doubts that this might have been happening under certain arrangements. These arrangements could concern composition of the new government as well. Citizens Union is doing this all. Kartozia’s case revealed these circumstances”, says Chikhradze.

Deputy Chairman of the Citizens Union faction does not confirm existence of such an arrangement and however states that the opposition voted for Kartozia after Zhvania’s statement because of definitely negative attitude of the majority of MPs towards ex-Parliamentary Chairman.

Kartozia’s approval sharply increased chances of other candidates as well.

Only Nino Chkhobadze – candidate on the post of Environment and Natural Resources Minister – failed to gain Parliament’s support. However, many parliamentarians believe that she has 100 % chances to be appointed if nominated again.

A week later, the Parliament discussed the candidates for ‘economic’ posts. First the parliamentarians wanted to hear conclusion of the governmental commission for investigating reasons of sequestering the state budget of 2001. President Shevardnadze established the commission before dismissing the government. Therefore conclusion of the commission might have influenced approval process of the new ministers.

Approval of the Finance Minister depended on the conclusion more than approval of other ministers. The conclusion was publicized two days before the voting. However, as a result of President’s personal interfering, issue of responsibility of certain members of the government were taken out from the document.

“I know that the President’s telephone call just few minutes before the voting for Nogaideli’s candidature made one part of the parliamentarians change their opinion”, says member of the New Rightist Wings faction.

“Day before the voting some candidates had almost no chances for success. But after the consultations between the faction the situation changed”, says Vakhtang Khmaladze, member of the Industrialists faction. He says that personal relations of the candidates with members of the parliament significantly influenced the voting. Pikria Chikhradze agrees with this opinion and says: “If the candidate was not ‘doomed’, many MPs voted for, thinking why I should be against if the candidate is going to be approved.” 

“There is a crisis of mentality in the government and the Parliament. Ministers are appointed under arrangements and not because someone wants to improve something in the country. This kind of intention comes form the President. He is “pushing the brakes”‘ very strongly”, Irakli Mindeli, Chairman of the Socialist faction, says.

“Our main demand was to change the ‘”economic block” completely. And we were rather amazed when the President nominated the old candidates”, says Pikria Chikhradze.

Member of the Citizens Union faction Vasil Maglaperidze says: “Earlier we had the government approved by the former Majority. The very same government was approved by the Parliament now”.

“The Parliament doomed itself [with these voting]”, believes Vakhtang Khmaladze and urges necessity of the new Parliamentary elections.

“This Parliament already did the “routine job” and changed election legislation to lead the country to the new elections”, Chikhradze says.

Irakli Gogava, member of the Alliance faction, shares the position and says the newly elected government will not last for more than a year. He believes that during this period the Parliament must introduce Constitutional amendments regarding creation of the ministers’ cabinet and solve the problem of territorial-administrative division.

Vakhtang Khmaladze believes that the period suggested by Gogava will not be enough: “I do not think that the constitutional changes will be adopted so easily. Thus, as a result we will have the ministers appointed by us remained on their posts. It would be very difficult to dismiss them”.

by Giorgi Kalandadze, Civil Georgia


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