Why Did Georgia’s Adjara Gov't Chair Resign?

The Chairman of Georgia's Autonomous Republic of Adjara, Zurab Pataridze, who had held the post since July 2016, announced his resignation on July 4, meaning that the whole cabinet also had to step down.

As Pataridze stated, he and his team made the decision together after “some consultations,” however, no other reasons were named by the ex-official.

In addition, the former Adjara Government Chair underlined that he will remain in the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) to “serve his country, as before.”

Opposition parties claim Pataridze’s resignation was demanded by the “informal” ruler of the country, GD founder, its Chair and the former Prime Minister, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.

On June 13, the former Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, resigned due to a difference of opinion with Ivanishvili.

The opposition says Pataridze was Kvirikashvili’s team member and after Ivanishvili dismissed the ex-PM, he “decided to replace the Adjara Government Head too.”

Unofficial sources say the newly-elected PM Mamuka Bakhtadze complained to Pataridze regarding the infrastructure of the coastal city Batumi when he paid a visit to the Adjaran capital on June 26.

The United National Movement (UNM) says it is obvious that Pataridze was dismissed for his friendship with ex-PM Kvirikashvili.

“The ruling party is replacing Kvirikashvili’s staff with Bakhtadze's people, but nothing will change, because anyone who does not want to be substituted in the future will have to follow Ivanishvili’s directions,” UNM member, Tinatin Bokuchava claimed.

Meanwhile, European Georgia says that Pataridze’s resignation confirmed that in parallel with the economic hardship in the country, there is a political “crisis” too.

“I am sure GD has no idea how to cope with the current situation in the country…However, no matter who is appointed to official positions, they will have to serve Ivanishvili,” said Zurab Chaberashvili, European Georgia MP.

The GD majority categorically denies that Pataridze was dismissed. GD MP Anri Okhanashvili claims he made the decision himself, while GD parliamentary majority leader, Archil Talakvadze, mentioned that before Pataridze’s resignation, there were discussions in the team regarding this issue.

The real reason for Pataridze’s leaving the post is unclear to the President's Administration. Giorgi Margvelashvili's political secretary, Pikria Chikhradze, points to the recent tendency of state officials leaving their posts mysteriously.

“We should hear a proper explanation from Pataridze or the ruling team as to why he resigned. Earlier, we saw the PM’s resignation, now he is followed by Pataridze. Society deserves to know the truth,” she said. Ana Natsvlishvili, the Parliamentary Secretary of the President stated that within two weeks, Margvelashvili will discuss potential Adjara Government Chair candidates with the Adjara Supreme Council, and not with the GD majority, the standard procedure being for the President to submit to the Supreme Council of Adjara a candidate who will be nominated by him.

The Adjara Supreme Council consists of 21 members. In order for the head of the government to be approved, 11 MPs must be in support of the candidate. The majority of the Georgian Dream has 14 mandates in the council, meaning the selection of the new Chair is up to them, not the President.

By Thea Morrison

05 July 2018 18:12