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Controversy over possibility of appointing Interior Minister Gakharia as PM

By Levan Abramishvili
Tuesday, September 3
With the Head of the Government Mamuka Bakhtadze resigned, the position of the Prime Minister of Georgia is vacant. The same media outlets that had foretold the upcoming changes in the government say that Giorgi Gakharia, who now serves as the Minister of Interior, is set to become the new leader of the country.

Answering the question regarding the possibility of Gakharia becoming the new PM, Bakhtadze said that the decision hasn’t been made yet.

“Why are you getting ahead of time? We are continuing our consultations. If the decisions were already made, I assure you, you would be the first to know about it today. Consultations are continuing and this is a normal political process,” said the former PM.

Gakharia is the only Georgian public official, whose resignation has been demanded for over two months.

Rustaveli, the main avenue of Tbilisi has been the place of protests since June 20. After the dispersal of the rally, the protesters gathered every day after to demand the resignation of Gakharia for the dispersal, dubbed as the ‘Gavrilov night’, after the Russian lawmaker.

The protests were sparked by a Russian MP’s visit at the Georgian Parliament. Some of the initial demands of the protests were met, including the resignation of the Chairman of the Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze and announcement that the 2020 parliamentary elections would be held with proportional system and ‘zero’ threshold.

Giga Makarashvili, one of the organizers of the protests told InterPressNews that the appointment of Giorgi Gakharia as the Head of the Government would be the proof that the ruling team is not interested in the opinion of its constituents and residents and is not interested in what has been going on in the city center, where the rallies have been going on for almost 80 consecutive days.

“They [the ruling team] are not interested in what’s happening in the city center, where protests have been going on for 74 days with one concrete demand – for the forceful Interior Minister, who made unforgivable mistakes, to resign. This is the sign that Bidzina Ivanishvili is going full-on ‘va banque’, which will be concluded with the removal of his game rules and a complete fiasco. Ivanishvili understands that he has very little time left until the parliamentary elections, especially when we’re talking about the proportional elections, his chances are already too slim and if he doesn’t fully exercise full control over the media, if he does not frighten people and starve the population, there’s a zero chance that he remains in the government,” said Makarashvili.

He also mentioned that if Gakharia becomes the Prime Minister, it would make more people angry and the number of protesters will significantly raise.

“We think that the appointment of Gakharia will inevitably lead to a new wave, which will inevitably be very painful for the Georgian Dream …We think this will lead to a significant increase in the number of protesters. September has come and Tbilisi, which is the epicenter of these protests, is getting filled with Tbilisi residents. We are not a destructive force and we are not going to take radical actions, though I affirm that this will further anger people, which will weaken Bidzina Ivanishvili’s rule. Tomorrow [September 3] will be the first sitting of the Parliament and we are going to organize a ‘corridor of shame’. In the evening, the rally will resume as usual,” added Makarashvili.

The opposition has also responded to the possibility of Gakharia becoming the PM.

The former Chairman of the Parliament Davit Usupashvili said that by appointing Gakharia as the Prime Minister, Ivanishvili is putting an ultimatum to his parliamentary majority.

“They will either support Gakharia and cling to the Ivanishvili’s boat destined to sink, or they will oppose him and say goodbye to the Parliament before the due time,” said Usupashvili.

Opposition MP of the European Georgia Zurab Chiaberashvili said that Georgian Dream can’t avoid the political responsibility with the changes in the government.

“Bidzina Ivanishvili thinks that the change of prime ministers or ministers will evade the political responsibility that will inevitably arise at the 2020 parliamentary elections when people will inescapably remove him from the power,” said Chiaberashvili.

“But if Ivanishvili still decides to promote Gakharia to a PM, it will be a shameless challenge for the Georgian society and I am deeply convinced that the Georgian society will accordingly respond to this,” he added.

The member of the United National Movement Zaal Udumashvili told reporters that if Giorgi Gakharia is appointed as the Prime Minister, it would put a “direct end to Ivanishvili’s regime.”

“If the person who organized ‘Gavrilov’s night’ in Tbilisi gets promoted to be a Prime Minister, it would be a mockery of the Georgian society,” said Udumashvili.

If the main creator behind the ‘Gavrilov’s night’ really becomes the Prime Minister, it will indeed be a direct challenge for the Georgian society. If it will be a tipping point for the population to rise up and demand fair treatment and respect from the Government, it remains to be seen.

According to the ruling team, the successor of Bakhtadze will be announced today, on September 3.