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11th Government since the Rose Revolution

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, July 6
On July 2 the Georgian Parliament approved yet another new Government, the 11th since the Rose Revolution. Traditionally this approval takes place without any opposition participation as the ruling party has a majority in Parliament. The President is a key figure in the process as the leader of the ruling party, Parliament and the Government being simply executors of his will.

Since the death of PM Zurab Zhvania, one of the architects of the Rose Revolution, the Government has become an obedient instrument for fulfilling the President’s wishes and the Ministers continually changed to keep it that way. At the July 2 Government session opposition representative Gia Tsagareishvili, the only opposition member to attend the session, voted against the new Government team whereas 100 ruling party representatives voted for it. Tsagareishvili stated at the session that since the Rose Revolution 89 Ministers and 5 Prime Ministers had been changed. Current PM Nika Gilauri is already heading his third Government team. These changes are popularly called the Government merry-go-round, because very often all that happens is that the same people simply change jobs. However sometimes completely unknown and inexperienced ministers are appointed, such as 28-year old Veronika Kobalia, the new Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, whose biography and background have raised many rhetorical questions. An IDP from Abkhazia, her family emigrated to Canada, became Canadian citizens and started a bread baking business there which eventually became successful. According to the opposition being the daughter of a successful businessman does not mean you yourself have the capacity to become a Minister and run the country’s economy. The suspicion is that the President himself wants to run the economy and Kobalia is just a front.

Some other questions are raised by opposition members and independent analysts. Why are new Ministries established and abolished and moved about so often? This time round a new Ministry of Sports and Youth has been set up, this having previously been a section of the Ministry of Culture, Monument Protection and Sport. The responsibility for transport has also been transferred from one Ministry to another without adequate explanation. PM Gilauri outlined his action plan for the next term at the July 2 session, saying that the situation in the country has improved considerably, salaries have increased, more companies have been registered, more people use mobile phones and more than 50% of the population have cars. As opposition member Jondi Baghaturia ironically stated, "Listening to the PM I was nearly convinced that we live in a successful country.” However the ruling power is sure that it will continue to be successful in elections, and automatically equated this with the country being successful too.

The country is in stand by mode, waiting for investment, an economic upturn, the resolving of political problems and a decrease in poverty. Of course there is the eternal hope that the country will be reunited. But the focus of Georgia's Government is clear. Forthcoming constitutional changes will increase the powers of the Prime Minister and his Government. It is suggested that current President Saakashvili will take over as PM when the two constitutional terms of his Presidency have expired, and this is the reason these changes are being made. The Government changes are probably designed to ease Saakashvili's path by removing anyone who might have enough standing to oppose him. At present the ruling administration of Georgia considers this its number one priority.