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Who will lead the Sakrebulo?

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, July 11
The media speculates that Professor of Tbilisi State University Gia Alibegashvili might become the head of the Tbilisi City Council, which is currently ruled by Irakli Shikhiahsvili.

Alibegashvili states that the issue is being discussed within the coalition’s political council. However, a final conclusion has not yet been reached.

“There are several candidates being discussed for the post, but the final decision still remains unknown for me and the rest of the candidates,” Alibegashvili stated.

Minister of Energy and Vice-Premier Kakhi Kaladze neither confirms nor denies the development.

According to him, Alibegashvili is an educated and respectable person. However, as he admits, the name of the coalition’s candidate for the position will be known to the public in the near future.

The Tbilisi City Council has been the target of various disputes and speculations since the Georgian Dream coalition took office in 2012. The fact that the former UNM representative Irakli Shikhaishvili was selected as the council’s chairperson caused certain dissatisfaction in the public and among analysts. Even the United National Movement (UNM) representatives used to frame Shikhiahsvili’s personality in a negative context, especially when there was a confrontation between the council and the Mayor’s Office over Tbilisi’s budget.

The recent dissatisfaction over the City Council was related to the high bonuses that Shikhiashvili and up to 400 employees received. Despite claims that the employees deserved such appreciation, the issue was negatively assessed even by the majority members. In the end, the government launched working on the restrictions in regard to bonuses.

After the runoff that is scheduled on July 12, the Georgian Dream coalition will come with a majority to the City Council. The first sitting of the council is scheduled for July 14, where the majority will elect the council head. Apparently, the head will be the candidate named by the coalition as the Georgian Dream holds a majority in the body.

Analyst Vazha Beridze told The Messenger that under the UNM government the body was quite politicized and ruled mainly by the Tbilisi Mayor rather than the council chairperson.

“When the coalition took office, the situation changed as there was no political pressure and the council became much freer in its decisions. It was a transitional period and of course there were mistakes. The body that was composed by Georgian Dream-UNM members mainly and was not a sheep dwelling at all,” Beridze said.

The analyst said that Alibegashvili is a qualified person in his field and if elected will fulfill his duties appropriately.

“However, I believe that those already having a political background should be appointed on leading political posts. Politics should be done by politicians,” Beridze says.

The Head of the Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili shares the vision that the City Council under the UNM was just a “project” drafted and administered by the UNM leadership. “However, the situation has not changed to a positive in terms of the council activities under the coalition. I am waiting for the situation to change now, as there are different political forces, not only the UNM and the coalition, represented in the body,” Kakhishvili said, stressing that it will be difficult for a man with no politician experience to deal with the body activities. “The council will not be the same as earlier as there will be different political parties there, and a new chair will have to deal and communicate with various political entities and that will be hard without a political background,” Kakhishvili stated.