One part of Georgian Dream (GD) ruling coalition members of Adjara’s local parliament, Supreme Council, have announced about intention to launch procedures to impeach head of autonomous republic’s government Archil Khabadze – the move which the party leaders in Tbilisi said was not agreed with them.
Khabadze, 33, who was head of ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili-affiliated Cartu Bank’s local branch in Batumi before being confirmed by the Supreme Council as head of Adjara’s government in October 2012 after he was nominated by Ivanishvili, said attempts to vote him out from the office aims at causing “political crisis” in the autonomous republic.
Campaign to sack Khabadze is led by faction in the Supreme Council, which is composed of seven members, who are from Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG), one of the six parties within the GD coalition; chairman of Supreme Council, Avtandil Beridze, is also in this faction. GD majority has six more members in the Supreme Council, who are united in two other factions; several members of these two factions said they would not support the initiative to vote out Khabadze.
Seats in 21-member Supreme Council are divided between 8 members of opposition UNM party and 13 members of six-party GD ruling coalition.
At least 14 votes are needed to sack Khabadze, meaning that those seeking dismissal of head of local government will require support of UNM members.
Petre Zambakhidze, member of the Supreme Council from UNM party, said that the opposition will take decision over the issue when and if motion for Khabadze’s impeachment is put on vote. Zambakhidze said that both Adjara’s government and GDDG faction are already “hunting” for UNM’s votes.
GDDG faction in the Supreme Council announced about intention to launch impeachment procedures on September 8. The group accused Khabadze of mismanagement, violation of budgetary law, “serious flaws” in state property management and “corrupt deals”.
The group is backed by vice-speaker of the Georgian Parliament Murman Dumbadze, a GD majoritarian lawmaker elected from Batumi single-mandate constituency.
In late August, when Khabadze sacked several senior officials of his government, those who were associates of MP Dumbadze, one of the members of GDDG faction, Alexandre Chitishvili, said it was an “attack on Dumbadze’s team.” At the time MP Dumbadze called on Khabadze to sack the entire government and nominate new members for confirmation before the Supreme Council; he also said that constitutional changes are needed in order to make head of Adjara’s government directly elected post.
On August 31 PM Irakli Garibashvili, who chairs GDDG party, as well as the GD coalition, met in Tbilisi members of Supreme Council’s GDDG faction. The meeting was also attended by MP Dumbadze.
PM Garibashvili has not spoken publicly over the issue, but on September 8, after the faction announced about intention to launch impeachment procedures, GDDG party released a written statement saying that its faction in the Supreme Council acted on its own initiative without prior agreement with the party leadership. It also said that GDGD leaders will meet on September 14 to discuss this “arbitrary action of the faction and an appropriate decision will be taken.”
Members of GDDG faction in the Supreme Council, however, further stepped up criticism of Khabadze on September 9. Alexandre Chitishvili, one of the members of the faction, accused head of Adjara’s government of hindering investment projects in the region and “obstructing” Supreme Council in proper exercise of oversight of the executive branch.
In a written statement on September 9 Khabadze denied allegations as “lies” and accused GDDG faction members of lobbying interests of their relatives.
“Recent actions of members of Georgian Dream faction in Adjara’s Supreme Council are directed towards causing government and political crisis” in Adjara, Khabadze said.