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Change in the Georgian government

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, September 2
A new cycle of change has begun in the Georgian government, according to some analysts. As usual there are rumours and after a while some of these rumours may well come true. The Georgian media has already been speculating about changes in government this autumn - different candidates, ministerial vacancies and reshuffling have been mentioned. Presumably all these will happen sometimes during September-October and the analysts believe these changes will reflect the conflicts within the ruling administration itself.

These are all just suppositions, although the reality has already started – on 31st August, the Minister of Healthcare and Social Protection, Alexander (Sandro) Kvitashvili resigned and was elected acting rector of Tbilisi State University.

The official story goes along these lines. The academic council of Tbilisi State University offered him the position of acting rector and after considering it briefly, Kvitashvili wrote his resignation letter and submitted it to the President. The President then approved his resignation and the university academic council elected him acting rector. However one might suppose that in reality the process occurred somewhat differently. It is unlikely that the academic council of university made this decision itself. The position of rector of TSU is too significant for President Saakashvili to allow its council to decide independently who will be rector. So this decision was either his initiative or at least if the decision was made by others, it was preliminary endorsed by Saakashvili. It is worth noting that just a few weeks ago Nugzar Surguladze was elected acting rector.

Rumours preceding this move suggested some ministers were supposed to vacate their posts. Three of them were named, with Kvitashvili among them, together with the environmental protection minister, Goga Khachidze and Koba Subeliani, minister for refugees and resettlement. We should point out that of these three analysts think that Kvitashvili is and was the most worthy of all of them. He is competent, educated and intelligent and the University should be congratulated on securing him as acting rector, for it will have appointed a competent, worthy patriotic professional. As for Khachidze he was notorious for his incompetence; in fact before his appointment as minister of environment he was a professional singer; he probably attracted Saakashvili’s attention for his pro Saakashvili patriotic songs. As for Subeliani, his ministry faces serious problems and there are many different allegations against him. IDPs are complaining and the Opposition is extremely critical of him. The Parliamentary anti-crisis council is demanding that the PM come to discuss Subeliani’s responsibility, the current IDP issues and their settlement.

Of course Subeliani alone is not to blame for the hardships faced by the IDPs, however it seems likely that he will be a sacrificial lamb in the near future. There is also speculation about the possible discharge of Nika Rurua from the position of Minister of Culture and Monument Protection. Levan Vepkhvadze, MP for the Christian Democrats states these rumours might be realistic. However news surrounding Rurua’s possible fate is contradictory with some sources indicating he will be further promoted, possibly to the position of Prime Minister as Akhali Taoba newspaper suggests.

It is expected that all these changes might be finalised during the parliamentary majority special session which will be held September 3-4 in Ganmukhuri near the administrative border of Abkhazia. It is difficult to say whether these changes will be part of the regular government merry-go-round which we have witnessed many times or whether it is a reflection of conflict among different groups in the leadership. Who disagrees with whom and the reasons for the conflicts as well as the tendencies of winning party will be revealed during the reshuffle and changes. There are also rumours that the President is planning to announce snap parliamentary elections because of the conflicts within the ruling party.

But take heed, Georgia is a country of rumours and although some may come true, as the saying goes – there's no smoke without fire.