TBILISI, APRIL 29 (The Conway Bulletin) – Georgian sports minister Levan Kipiani resigned after a row with a parliamentary committee, triggering a vote of confidence in PM Irakli Garibashvili’s government.
In-fighting has dogged Mr Garibashvili’s Georgian Dream coalition government since it was voted into power in October 2012 and his opponents now sense an opportunity to kill it off.
Nino Burjanadze, a former PM and now an opposition leader, said: “Early parliamentary elections and real changes in the government are the only option at the moment.”
Georgia is grappling with a fiercely divided political scene and a worsening economy linked to a decline in Russia’s finances. The governmental crisis makes stability even more precarious.
Mr Kipiani was the seventh member of Mr Garibashvili’s 20-member cabinet to quit. Under the constitution if a third of ministers resign, a no confidence vote is triggered within seven days.
And the Georgian Dream majority in parliament includes the support of 12 independents.
A handful of defections means that Georgian Dream holds 75 seats out of the current 149 filled seats. The support of the independents, who officially joined the government coalition in November, brings this up to 87. One seat is empty.
It is the speed of the government’s collapse that has taken people by surprise. Mr Kipiani was the third member of the government to resign in quick succession, following environment minister Elguja Khokrishvili and regional development minister Davit Shavliashvili.
Will Dunbar, a Tbilisi-based analyst, said: “To lose one minister in a week looks bad, to lose three looks like carelessness and carelessness is one thing this government does well.”
>>This story was first published in issue 229 of the weekly Conway Bulletin newspaper, the leading independent newspaper for Central Asia and the South Caucasus. For subscription details, follow the links above.
>>This story is a corrected version of the original story. Paragraphs 6 and 7 have been corrected to show that although the Georgian Dream party hold 75 seats in parliament, they also have the support of 12 independent MPs who have joined the government coalition. This brings their majority up to 87 in the 150-seat parliament.