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The importance of resignation

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, November 13
A couple of days ago, the Director General of the BBC resigned from his post, as he was indirectly involved in scandal that unfolded within his organization. This news provides topic context to our editorial.

Today Georgia is experiencing some serious changes. Lately, we often hear the demands from certain segments of the population, of some professional unions or students about the resignation of various authorities. Resignation, if it is voluntary however, denotes that an individual takes responsibility for certain failures and short-comings. Until the recent elections that saw the opposition Georgian Dream Coalition victorious, resignation was not regularly exercised as an acknowledgment of civil or political responsibility. In the previous system people simply resigned when it was requested from above. Now the call for resignation is coming from below.

What is the situation now in Georgia? Bus drivers in the capital are on strike. They demand an increase in their salaries and the improvement of their working conditions. After putting forth a litany of demands (16 to be precise), they have recently consolidated their demands into one single request– the resignation of the public transport service leadership. Students of leading universities, Tbilisi's technical university in particular, have started an initiative that calls for the resignation of the university's rector. In addition, the general public has begun demanding resignation of the director general of the public broadcaster. Sometimes such demands are responded to and certain figures buckle from the pressure from below and resign. For instance, some days ago, Executive Director of Telasi, Zurab Arsoshvili, resigned under the constant pressure and demands of former employees and the public. Just two days ago, a special public movement started that demands the resignation of President Saakashvili. This is a separate and special case, because the call for his resignation existed some time ago, but until recently, it was not realistic.

The world has many precedents with regard to presidents, prime ministers, ministers, high-ranking judges and other officials resign. Generally it is an acceptable practice when new political forces and representatives come to power; many high officials resign making way for the new administration to appoint their team members.

In November 2007, President Saakashvili resigned from the presidency and new presidential elections were held in 2008. However, in those times, President Saakashvili had an almost 100% guarantee that he would be elected once again. So it happened on January 5, 2008.

After that however, a very dramatic situation took place when in August of the same year, Georgia lost an ill-advised war against Russia. This resulted in casualties among Georgian citizens and the Armed Forces, hundreds of thousands IDPs and of course the lost territories. 20% of Georgia’s land is now occupied and/or administered by Russia. President Saakashvili, as Commander in Chief of the Georgian Armed Forces and head of state, officially took responsibility for the aftermath. But what does it mean – taking responsibility? It means that he had to answer in front of the country for his failures. Most significantly, he had to admit to being baited into a trap via Russian provocations. Some analysts then suggested that any responsible commander in chief or head of state would have committed suicide after 20% of his country’s land was occupied– or at the very least, would have resigned.

Not so in the case of Georgia. Saakashvili did not resign and moreover, continued ruling the country afterwards.

Today, aside from the loss of territory Saakashvili’s party went on to lose the elections and although he acknowledged this fact, he desperately tries to cling to his power as president, thus creating a precedent for the new administration by attempting to create a situation for possible revenge.

The new leadership of the Georgian Dream has requested that Saakashvili resign on the date of the expiration of his five-year term in January, 2013. However, it looks like the president does not want to resign on this date at all, waiting an extra 9 months before October 2013 when his second term of his presidency should be terminated.

Public movement has started which demands urgent resignation of president Saakashvili thou it is unknown what levers could be activated to achieve this goal.