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Jostling for Power May Disrupt Government ahead of Elections

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, September 20
There is a lot of speculations in the Georgian media currently over the future prospects of the ruling power. The major issue is whether the ruling team will preserve its shape or split into segments creating different configurations.

There is anticipation that some kind of change is afoot. In a sense this anticipation is a hangover from previous experiences of previous governing bodies. As is known, Eduard Shevardnadze, finishing his second term as president, created a situation which led to the fragmentation of his team. A sense of competition facilitated the split. Today the situation is rather similar. Saakashvili's second term as president is expiring and changes are inevitable. Some analysts suggest that this situation will create a certain level of confrontation – exactly the type of competition that brought down Shevardnadze. Of course, the difference in this case is Saakashvili’s age. Former President Shevardnadze was doomed to leave politics, whereas Saakashvili is still young and he obviously will maintain one of the key positions in the country, most probably the prime minister’s post. According to the new amendments in the constitution the new president will not be the number one person in the country. Instead this will be the prime minister. There is another option as well – perhaps Saakashvili will prefer to become chair of parliament. Either way, Saakashvili will not be president after his term expires. As for possible candidates for president, mostly two names are being banded about. These are: Tbilisi Mayor, Gigi Ugulava, and the current chair of parliament, Davit Bakradze.

Of course, Saakashvili and his team want to win the parliamentary elections next year with a majority. In this case, Saakashvili himself will move smoothly into another governing position and his team will secure the election of a new president with reduced powers. For the United National Movement this would be perfect harmony. But the Georgian population is not necessarily singing from the same song sheet. Questions continue to circulate over possible splits and challenges to the current ruling team prior to the elections. As well as what happened to Shevardnadze, prominent figures in the opposition remember the events only four years ago before the last parliamentary elections when the then chair of parliament, Nino Burjanadze, was shunted into the opposition as internal confrontation flared within the ruling party.

The current ruling power categorically denies the existence of such possibility. They claim that there is no desire for confrontation among the governing group. However, rumors and gossip suggest that something is stirring. The Georgian media permanently speculates about a possible government reshuffle and changes in certain important positions. The changes might touch the governors of different regions as well. Analysts note that President Saakashvili does not keep the governors of different regions for more than 2-3 years. Opposition representatives have thus concluded that Georgia is on the eve of serious change. The hope remains that everything will take place smoothly and Georgian interests will not be damaged by the upcoming changes, however that will depend on the depth and breadth of any change that emerges.