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A majority of councillors from Borjomi’s municipal council (sakrebulo) have signed a request to impeach the head of the council, the only one in Georgia not controlled by the ruling Georgian Dream party. The move comes as a crisis between the council and the mayor’s office continues, over the council’s refusal to sign off on a staff budget for the mayor’s office which included pay rises for the top positions.
Fifteen of the council’s 28 members submitted the appeal on Wednesday to impeach Zaza Chachanidze, from the Alliance of Patriots, including two from his own party. The remaining signatories were all members of Georgian Dream.
The council will consider the issue in a plenary session on 28 March. The same day, the council will once again discuss the staff budget for the mayor’s office, which the council has rejected seven times.
Alliance of Patriots councillor Tatiana Martinenko told Samtskhe-Javakheti-based news site Samkhretis Karibche that she and another councillor from the party, Mamuka Lursmanashvili, were the authors of the initiative to impeach Chachanidze, adding that it came as a result of the crisis in Borjomi between the Mayor’s Office and Council over the former’s staff pay.
‘There are 11 councillors from the Alliance of Patriots on the council. We think that we share a great responsibility for the peace in Borjomi and to form a normal relationship between the Mayor’s Office and the council. This is why it was our initiative to change the head of the council and Georgian Dream councillors joined us in this initiative’, she said.
In order for Chachanidze to be impeached, at least 15 councillors must vote in favour of it in a secret ballot on 28 March.
Chachanidze told Samkhretis Karibche that he hasn’t yet spoken with Martinenko and Lursmanashivli and doesn’t know why they made such a decision. He says he cannot do anything but wait for the plenary session.
‘I will bring up the issue of impeaching me along with the other items on the agenda. Let’s see what happened. The situation now is such that everyone has seen perfectly who is who in reality’, he remarked.
Martinenko had accused Chachanidze of ‘using the votes’ of 15 opposition councillors for personal gain. She said the crisis in Borjomi is the result of a disagreement between Chachanidze and councillors from Georgian Dream, and this is why they decided to impeach him. She added that in the event Chachanidze is impeached, the Alliance of Patriots will nominate a new head of the council from their ranks and hope the council supports them.
According to her, the decision had been agreed with the party’s central office.
Georgian Dream has 13 out of 28 seats on the council, the Alliance of Patriots has 11, the United National Movement two, and European Georgia and the Labour Party have one councillor each. Georgian Dream had been boycotting council sessions for several months since failing to secure a majority at the elections, until the conflict with Mayor’s Office escalated.
The Mayor of Borjomi and almost the entire staff of his office haven’t been paid for the past three months, because the council has refused to approve a new staff budget. The new budget included major pay rises for the Mayor and several of his senior staff.
Most of the staff of the Mayor’s Office, including the mayor himself, went on a strike in the beginning of March, but resumed work in a few days after receiving promises that the council would again consider the issue of their salaries on the next plenary session on 28 March.
[Read More on OC Media: Borjomi’s mayor and staff go on strike]