President Saakashvili said he was not “satisfied” with Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze’s decision not to run for reelection in the new parliament.
Burjanadze raised eyebrows in the evening on April 21 by declining to run in the May 21 parliamentary elections under the ruling party’s list of MP candidates. She made not secrete that her decision was linked with a failure to agree with other National Movement leaders over party-list.
“The decision is final and it will not be revised,” she said in a statement, which she read out at the news conference.
Burjanadze, who led the ruling party’s list of MP candidates, said: “Despite long and difficult consultations, unfortunately, it was not possible to reach a consensus over the National Movement’s party list. I think this is not a tragedy; it is not a pleasant fact, but it is not either a tragedy – it can happen in any democratic state.”
She said that she had tried to promote in the party list “new figures, new faces,” who would helped to reenergize and “humanize” reforms.
Burjanadze also stressed that her decision by no way meant that she was going into opposition. “Everyone should know that – this is my firm position – difference in positions does not mean weakness of the authorities and it does not mean crack in the unity within the authorities.”
The Parliamentary Chairperson announced her decision at 6pm – exactly when the deadline for submission of the party-lists to the Central Election Commission expired. Although the ruling party said it submitted its party list of MP candidates before the deadline expired, the names in the list have not been unveiled, triggering speculation that the National Movement was still in the process of compiling the list. CEC members from the opposition parties demanded from the CEC administration to demonstrate the list, but were refused. The CEC administration cited that the lists were sealed off in the chancellery, which would only be reopened with the new working day early on April 22.
It is only known so far that Davit Bakradze, the foreign minister, will now lead the ruling party’s list of MP candidates instead of Burjanadze, followed by Koba Subeliani, the state minister for refugees and accommodation.
Nino Burjanadze said that President Saakashvili accepted her decision with “understanding.”
Speaking in a televised address, Mikheil Saakashvili said: “I understand why she has decided it and of course I am not satisfied with this decision of hers.”
Then he hailed Burjanadze as “one of the greatest political figures of Georgia” and said that she was “very, very important person” for him.
“She is Georgia’s patriot; we have been standing together for many years. She is the person, who in the most difficult times – for example last November when the country was engulfed in the sharp political crisis – stood firm and twice performed the presidential duties in very difficult times and secured stable and peaceful transition. This is the person, who is a symbol of stability, peace, political intellect and dignity for me.”
He also said that “three-fourth” of the ruling party’s list of MP candidates features “new faces, who have never been affiliated with the politics in recent years.”
Saakashvili also said that the National Movement was “not only Saakashvili, Burjanadze, or lawmakers and ministers; this is a nation-wide people’s movement.”
Burjanadze, who was until now a leading person in the ruling party’s ongoing campaign, said that she would continue performing parliamentary chairperson’s duties before the election of new parliament, but did say nothing about her long-term plans.