Two Key Ministers Quit as Georgia’s Election Campaign Season Begins

TBILISI - Two top Republican Ministers will leave their posts in Georgia’s cabinet as the Republican Party launches its election campaign ahead of parliamentary polls in October, the party’s leader and Parliament Chairman David Usupashvili announced at a special briefing Tuesday.

Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli – the first woman to hold the position – who has served in her post since May 2015 and Reconciliation and Civil Equality Affairs Minister Paata Zakareishvili, will resign from the cabinet in the coming days and focus their attention on the Republican party’s pre-election activities.

Environmental Protection Minister Gigla Agulashvili – also a Republican – has opted to leave the party but remain in the government.

“We are ending our alliance with the Georgian Dream Coalition. We are proud that we have done a lot of work with our partners over the past four years, but the country needs much more,” Usupashvili said.

At the briefing, Usupashvili announced that the Republican Party is officially launching its election campaign.

Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who is also the chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, has yet to name his replacements for Khidasheli and Zakareishvili.

The Republicans are the second largest faction in the Georgian Dream coalition. The party announced in late March that it plans to withdraw officially from the Georgian Dream before the October 2 elections and run on its ticket.

The departure of the Republicans is expected to complicate the Georgian Dream’s chances at re-election. Recent polls have shown widespread discontent with the incumbents due to their poor handling of Georgia’s crippled economy and a lack of policy cohesion amongst its disparate members.

The coalition has been the dominant political force in the country since it defeated former President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement in the 2012 elections.

The Republicans are a self-described pro-European, pro-Western, center-right party that champions a liberal market economy and close integration with Western institutions like NATO and the EU.

By Tamar Svanidze
Edited By Nicholas Waller

Photo: Republican Party

12 July 2016 17:39