Changes will take place not only in the cabinet after the early presidential polls, but also in the inner circle, Nino Burjanadze, the acting president, said on December 21.
“When the new cabinet was submitted to the parliament for approval, I expressed hope that there would be serious changes in the cabinet [after the January 5 election] and naturally there will be changes in the political team as well,” Burjanadze told a group of students and professors in her hometown of Kutaisi.
She has suggested changes were needed to ensure the country moved onto a new stage of development after the presidential election.
“At every particular stage there are certain people needed to do certain kinds of jobs, but the time comes when these people may need to be replaced by others to do specific jobs,” she said.
Burjanadze’s remarks, aired by the Georgian Public Broadcaster, came in the midst of widespread speculation of a major post-election shake-up within Saakashvili’s inner circle.
The speculation emerged following the near absence from the political scene over the past few weeks of some heavyweight figures, many of whom had taken a hard-line position during the heated political standoff in early November.
The absence of MP Giga Bokeria has been particularly noted, given the lead role he had been taking over the last four years. MP Maia Nadiradze, the leader of the parliamentary majority, as well as some cabinet members, most notably Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili and Economy Minister Giorgi Arveladze, have also been keeping low profiles recently.
In a somewhat surprise move, Saakashvili chose Davit Bakradze, the state minister for conflict resolution issues, as his campaign spokesman and academic Pridon Todua as the head of his campaign headquarters. Todua, however, is seen by many to occupy only a largely nominal position.
The uncertainty surrounding Saakashvili’s inner circle has meanwhile become the focus of opposition attacks on the former president. A group of youth activists from the nine-party opposition coalition and the Equality Institute NGO staged a protest rally outside Saakashvili’s home in Tbilisi on December 21. The protesters held banners reading “show us your team” and depicted photos of MP Giga Bokeria and Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili.