PM Bidzina Ivanishvili picked 32-year-old Archil Khabadze, head of Ivanishvili-affiliated Cartu Bank’s Batumi branch office, as head of the Adjara Autonomous Republic’s government.
Formally a candidate has to be selected by the President in consultations with political parties represented in newly elected local legislative body of Adjara, Supreme Council, and in agreement with the Georgian central government.
Nominated candidate requires support from more than half of 21-member Supreme Council to be confirmed on the post.
Elections for Adjara’s local legislative body were held simultaneously with the parliamentary elections on October 1.
Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition won 13 seats in the Supreme Council and rest of the 8 seats were taken by President Saakashvili’s United National Movement party.
If confirmed, Khabadze will replace President Saakashvili’s ally, Levan Varshalomidze, who has served as head of Adjara’s government since July, 2004.
After graduating Batumi State University’s faculty of banks and finances, Khabadze studied the same field at the Georgian Agrarian University. He was head of credit department at Cartu Bank’s Batumi branch office since 2006 before he was promoted as head of the bank's Batumi branch office in 2008.
Ivanishvili, who attended inaugural session of the Adjara’s Supreme Council on October 28, said that Khabadze “is a very good manager” and that his young age was his “only weakness”; but he also added that this weakness would turn into his advantage “as he will have more energy” to tackle challenges.
Ivanishvili also said that empowering local self-governance was one of the major priorities for his government.
“Regions should rule themselves,” he said and added that as an autonomous republic, Adjara should have more powers to tackle local issues, than other regions.
“Decentralization should take place as soon as possible, but it should also take place gradually in order not to ruin and spoil anything,” Ivanishvili said.
In the elections for Adjara’s local legislative body, the Georgian Dream received 57.55% of votes in the proportional, party-list contest; the United National Movement garnered 36.94%.
Other five parties, which were running in the Adjara elections, failed to clear 5% threshold required for endorsing candidates in the Supreme Council. Christian-Democratic Movement received 2.82%; Labor Party – 1.28%; New Rights Party – 0.55%.
Georgian Dream majoritarian candidates won in three out of Adjara’s six single-mandate constituencies (Batumi; Kobuleti and Khelvachauri); other three constituencies have been won by the United National Movement candidates (Keda; Khulo and Shuakhevi).