>>Sacking poses questions of Georgian government>>
LONDON, Nov. 5 (The Conway Bulletin) – Georgia’s PM Irakli Garbishvili sacked his defence minister Irakli Alasania for insubordination, throwing the coalition government into its most severe test of credibility since winning power at a parliamentary election in 2012 and then a presidential election in 2013 (Nov. 4).
Mr Alasania is head of the Free Democrats party which could withdraw its support for the Georgian Dream, the opposition coalition put together by Georgia’s richest man Bidzine Ivanishvili to oust Mikheil Saakshvili from power.
Georgian foreign minister, Maia Panjikidze, and Aleksi Petriashvili, the minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, are also members of the Free Democrats and are likely to resign from the government.
Without the 10 Free Democrats MPs, Georgia Dream loses its majority in Georgia’s parliament. It drops its representation to 75 MPs, out of 150.
Reports from Tbilisi said Mr Alasania was furious about the arrest of 10 officials from the ministry of defence for alleged corruption. He countered that the officials were innocent and that the arrests were part of a plot to undermine his staunchly pro-NATO and pro-Western agenda. The current government is broadly pro-West too, although it has mended ties with Russia.
Mr Alasania was on a trip to Europe when the arrests took place. Despite a busy schedule he still found time to openly criticise the arrests. This was enough for his boss, Mr Garbishvili, probably with the support of Mr Ivanishvili, to fire him.
Mr Alasania is a popular politician. His sacking has shaken Georgian politics.
>>This article was first published in issue 207 of The Conway Bulletin newssheet which covers Central Asia and the South Caucasus. For more details on the newssheet and how to subscribe, visit the website at www.conway.starbit.co.uk