Ruling Party Confirms PM Gakharia’s Cabinet, as Opposition Boycotts

The Parliament of Georgia confirmed on September 8 Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia’s new government with 98 votes in favor to 0 against. The opposition did not vote, UNM faction was present but did not take part in voting, European Georgia walked out.

The following ministers will be in Gakharia’s cabinet:

  • Minister of Defense – Irakli Garibashvili;
  • Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development – Natia Turnava;
  • Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport – Mikheil Batiashvili;
  • Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture – Levan Davitashvili;
  • Minister of Finance – Ivane Machavariani
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs – Davit Zalkaliani;
  • Minister of Internal Affairs – Vakhtang Gomelauri;
  • Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Protection – Ekaterine Tikaradze;
  • Minister of Justice and Corrections – Tea Tsulukiani;
  • Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure – Maia Tskitishvili;
  • State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality – Ketevan Tsikhelashvili.

Giorgi Gakharia, who served as Interior Minister since 2017, was tapped to be the country’s new head of government after Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze stepped down on September 2.

Gakharia on government priorities, June 20 developments and opposition’s responsibility

Speaking at the Parliament’s session on September 8, Gakharia focused on the government’s priorities, including combating corruption, security, economic and human capital development. He paid special attention to the problem of occupation, describing it as “the greatest security challenge” and “a huge obstacle to the country’s development.”

He said that fighting against occupation “needs real deeds,” calling on politicians to end “provocative, populist, irresponsible actions,” which may affect everyday lives of locals living across the occupation line. Gakharia stressed the need of pursuing “clever policy” and using all tools at disposal. He also noted that the formats of Geneva International Discussions and Abashidze-Karasin negotiations should be used as much as possible.

Giorgi Gakharia again touched upon the June 20-21 developments, when the participations of the anti-occupation rally were violently dispersed by riot police in Tbilisi, accusing the opposition of “spreading lies” and “modeling the reality.”

“It is unacceptable for us, when a political force, a responsible political force describes storming the Parliament as freedom of expression. Those people, who had organized the rally, were openly calling for bursting into the state institution,” Gakharia said.

He once again explained why he did not resign from the Interior Minister’s position following the June 20-21 developments that left hundreds of citizens injured.

Gakharia stressed that police officers prevented “a storm against the Parliament” and “saved the state institution.” He noted that his resignation would be equal to pleading guilty. “I do not feel myself guilty,” Gakharia said, adding that he acknowledges his responsibility to the people who sustained injuries during the dispersal.

Parliamentary opposition’s assessments

The parliamentary opposition was represented at the session only by lawmakers from the United National Movement and the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia. MPs from the European Georgia party boycotted the session.

Speaking at the Parliament’s session on September 8, MP Nika Melia of the United National Movement, who has been charged for inciting and heading mass violence on the night of June 20-21, noted that Georgian people will soon return its Parliament and its country. Following his address, the UNM lawmakers walked out without participating in the voting.

MPs of the Alliance of Patriots party also refused to participate in the voting, citing “criminal cohabitation” between Georgian Dream and National Movement as the reason. MP Ada Marshania criticized Gakharia for having no plans on restoration of territorial integrity and solution of unemployment problem.

Civil protest

The Parliament’s session was held amid a protest rally dubbed “It’s a shame” outside the Parliament building in the capital. Civic activists, who have been holding protest rallies demanding Gakharia’s resignation from the Interior Minister’s position since June 20, brought sheep to the Parliament building to symbolize the ruling party lawmakers, who, as they claimed, were acting upon Bidzina Ivanishvili’s instructions.

A minor scuffle erupted after MP Emzar Kvitsiani of the Alliance of Patriots party approached civic activists and insulted them both verbally and physically. Activists kept calling Kvitsiani, ex-warlord from Kodori Valley in Upper Abkhazia “Slave of Russia” and “traitor.” Later, police officers took Kvitsiani away from the incident site. The Interior Ministry has launched investigation under article 126 (violence) of the Criminal Code of Georgia.

The protest rally continued outside the Parliament even after Giorgi Gakharia was confirmed as the new Prime Minister of Georgia.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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