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Watching Government carousel gives the country a headache

By Messenger staff
Friday, December 12
If we judge from the reaction of the media, analysts and the general public, the reshuffle in the Government has not increased public confidence in it. Rather the contrary, criticism and the general feeling of alienation have increased. We deliberately wonít quote the opposition, which is always critical, but members of the general public interviewed by TV stations and independent analysts, with no known political persuasion, have been near-universal in their exasperation at the latest turn of the merry-go-round.

Sudden changes in the Government have become a hallmark of the Saakashvili administration. As soon as they occur the authorities tell us how timeously these changes have been made, how necessary they were and how much the situation will improve as a result of them. However, the people donít understand the reasons for such hasty chopping and changing or what the real results of it are supposed to be, as none of the many changes seem to have made much difference. There are many questions which remain to be answered about why the Government is changed so often, in the way it is.

One issue which needs to be addressed is that the hirings and firings are not transparent. No clear statements are made as to why a certain Minister has been sacked, what went wrong. We can presume that someone is dismissed because they did not do their job well. But instead we hear that this person was a good Minister or official who did not deserve to be sacked. Moreover, we remember cases when people were praised as exemplary just before they were removed and in some cases then vilified by those who had praised them before (Minister Okruashvili, Governor Kareli). This sort of thing does not lead people to believe that there are honest reasons for people being removed from or brought into the Government.

Who actually makes the decisions to hire and fire? It looks as if they are being made by only a small group of people or perhaps just the President himself. Furthermore, often the decision is a complete surprise not only to the ruling party members but the person discharged and the one appointed. Journalists quote the example of former Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili who was dismissed while she was on a high level assignment quite successfully fulfilling her mission. Why was she appointed at all if she was to be discharged in such a manner, left hanging in the air? This conduct not only suggests that the authorities do not know or care what they are doing but it undermines the image of the country, making the country as a whole look very unprofessional if this is what its elected representatives do.

Articles in recent days have borne headlines such as: Georgian show, merry-go-round, carousel, changing names, agony, etc. Such hasty moves create extra rumours about what is really going on behind closed Government doors, different gossip which is very well used by the opposition. None of this helps the country, regardless of the qualities of the new Ministers.

These frequent jugglings are so much part of the habit or style of this administration that they might be very difficult to abandon in a short period of time. But it is worth seeing if this can be done, so that we can not only develop trust in the authorities, but know who we are supposed to be trusting.