Archil Kbilashvili announces about resignation from chief prosecutor’s post during a press conference in Tbilisi on November 7. Photo: press service of prosecutor’s office
Chief prosecutor, Archil Kbilashvili, announced on November 7 about stepping down from the post he has held over the past one year, citing differences over pace of reforms with incoming and outgoing prime ministers.
He said during a press conference that his resignation will be effective from inauguration of president-elect on November 17.
Kbilashvili, who was appointed on the post of chief prosecutor in late October 2012, said he has no major disagreements whatsoever with Irakli Garibashvili, who has been named as prime ministerial candidate to replace outgoing PM Bidzina Ivanishvili.
He, however, also suggested that while there are no disagreements of strategic nature, differences on tactical issues persist over “priorities, challenges and reforms that have to be carried out in the law enforcement area.”
“But these [differences] represent differing views of co-fighters of one team with common goal, which has always persisted and will continue to persist in Bidzina Ivanishvili’s team of reformers,” Kbilashvili said.
Kbilashvili also said that he had differences with PM Ivanishvili over the pace of reforms in the prosecutor’s office.
“But these are [differences] about the timing, not about principles. Like I, the Prime Minister too thinks that Georgia should have the European-type of prosecutor’s office; but I am in favor of acting faster,” he said.
“As far as the prosecutor’s office represents part of executive branch of government, the chief prosecutor is obliged to follow the policy set by Prime Minister. For that reason, after lengthy discussions with PM Ivanishvili we have agreed that I will step down together with PM Ivanishvili [who plans to resign after the November 17 of president-elect’s inauguration] and as his team members to continue together with him [Ivanishvili] working in the civil society. It means providing my support to Bidzina Ivanishvili in implementing those tasks, which he plans during his public activities,” Kbilashvili said.
This is the first major resignation in the executive branch since Interior Minister Irakli Garibashvili’s nomination as prime ministerial candidate, who is slated to take the post within two weeks after the inauguration of president-elect on November 17. It is not yet clear who will replace Kbilashvili on the post of chief prosecutor; it is not yet either clear who will be new Interior Minister to replace Garibashvili or what will be other changes, if any, in the new government.
Kbilashvili said that past one year was a period of transition for the prosecutor’s office from the policy of “repression” to “liberalization”, which, among others, also involved “giving up control of judiciary”.
Noting that his tenure as chief prosecutor fell on the political cohabitation period, Kbilashvili said that he is a target of criticism of those “citizens who are upset by this cohabitation.”
“But I believe that that the policy of PM Ivanishvili’s government in criminal justice, which was marked by moderate and balanced approach, was the only right policy,” he said.
“It does not mean that I failed to see or I liked those shortcomings that the prosecutor’s office inherited,” Kbilashvili said.
“I strongly believe that after the new president and new prime minster assume powers, systemic reforms should start in the prosecutor’s office in order to eradicate these shortcomings; it should involve separation of functions, establishment of mechanisms for internal oversight, strengthening the role of prosecutor’s office in overseeing investigations. Repressive [role] of prosecutor’s office should be replaced by institutionally new one built on the European model. I see new policy in investigating white-collar crimes as an overture to the reform that has to be implemented,” Kbilashvili said.
He also said that that “time has come to give a clear answer” about what will be the state policy towards the pressing issue of seized private property as prosecutor’s office has been overloaded with thousands of complaints filed by citizens who claim that they have been victims of illegal seizure of their property under the previous authorities.