Georgian PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili resigns over ‘disagreements with Ivanishvili’

13 June 2018
Giorgi Kvirikashvili (Facebook)

Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili resigned on Wednesday over disagreements within the ruling Georgian Dream party. During his resignation speech, he said he disagreed over several ‘fundamental issues’ with party chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili.

‘This position has been a great responsibility for me. I’ve always tried to carry this responsibility with dignity. I have tried to be everybody’s Prime Minister. I believe in my heart that every step I have taken was out of good will for our country. I have always been and still am a team player. I can see the attitudes in the team and therefore I made a decision — I am resigning’, said Kvirikashvili.

Kvirikashvili said that at yesterday’s Georgian Dream party meeting, members spoke of the economic policy the government has implemented. ‘I and the ruling team had different opinions’, said Kvirikashvili.

‘I have been Prime Minister since 2015 and during these two years, our government has implemented important reforms. Today we have strong economic growth in the region and a convenient environment for doing business. I understand very well how much people struggle with poverty, people who think about daily bread in the harshest conditions. This is true, but I’m also sure that if this policy was not in place, the capacity for creating decent living conditions for people would have been delayed for several more years. I believe that a responsible politician should make the kind of decisions, the kind of unpopular steps, which are aimed at the country’s long-term development plans, not immediate results’, said Kvirikashvili.

Speculation over changes in the government emerged on Tuesday with several media outlets reporting Kvirikashvili would resign. Members of Georgian Dream, including chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili, held a meeting later that day after which they denied rumours of a change in government. Instead, they insisted they talked about a recent study by UNICEF which suggested that poverty indicators had grown in Georgia.

Georgian Dream MP Zakaria Kutsnashvili said it had been a long time since he had seen Ivanishvili so angry. He elaborated that there was a heated discussion on the economy at the meeting.

Ivanishvili made a return to frontline politics in May, when Georgian Dream, the party he founded, elected him as chairman, formalising his return to the Georgian political scene. His comeback follows reports of intra-party tensions and continued allegations of Ivanishvili’s informal rule after his resignation as Prime Minister and official retirement from politics in late 2013.

For several weeks, protests led by Zaza Saralidze, the father of murdered teenager Davit Saralidze, and the opposition United National Movement Party (UNM) have been held demanding the Government’s resignation.

[Read more about Khorava Street Murder and related demonstrations in Tbilisi on OC Media: Georgia’s chief prosecutor resigns amidst mass protests]

What happens next

The Prime Minister’s resignation automatically triggers the dissolution of the whole cabinet, after which, within seven days, the Georgian constitution requires a majority in parliament name a new candidate for Prime Minister, who will be formally submitted to the full Parliament for confirmation by the President.

Within another seven days, the new candidate for prime minister must submit a cabinet together with a government programme for parliament’s approval. A new government’s confirmation requires 76 votes — a majority of the 150-member parliament. The ruling Georgian Dream party holds 116 seats in parliament.

The President of Georgia has the right to dissolve Parliament if it fails to approve a new candidate for prime minister or cabinet three times.

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