The ruling Georgian Dream party lawmakers are divided over intra-party coordination and decision-making issues, with some lawmakers blaming the party’s parliamentary leadership, including Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, of failing to ensure their adequate involvement in the parliamentary processes.
The disagreement follows the April 4 announcement of MP Gedevan Popkhadze, who said he intended to quit the majority group over his opposition to the ruling party decision to endorse the candidacy of Ninia Kakabadze to the Board of Trustees of the Georgian Public Broadcaster.
Two ruling party MPs – Mariam Jashi and Tamaz Naveriani - echoed Popkhadze’s sentiments in their statements, apologizing publicly for voting in favor of Ninia Kakabadze. Some lawmakers called for better decision-making processes in the majority group, including MP Shota Shalelashvili, who blamed the parliamentary leadership of “single-handed” decisions.
Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze commented on the accusations yesterday, saying there were several “unpleasant incidents, transgressions.” “Unfortunately, Gedevan Popkhadze gravely insulted his teammates and he did it through speculating on religious matters, which is very unfortunate,” Kobakhidze noted, adding that the majority group would discuss the issue, and that he hoped it would “not happen again in the future.”
The Parliament Speaker spoke on other MPs as well, stressing that “[around] three-four lawmakers made mistakes in their statements.” “This, of course, is a problem, but it will be easy to address; we will discuss the issue with each of them, and I am sure such problems will not repeat again.”
Similar messages were voiced by MP Mamuka Mdinaradze, leader of the Georgian Dream faction, and MP Davit Matikashvili, deputy chair of the Legal Affairs Committee, with Mdinaradze reiterating that several lawmakers made “grave mistakes” in their statements, and Matikashvili stressing that the party was “governed democratically.”
MP Nukri Kantaria responded with counter-accusations, saying “mistakes have been made by the Parliament Speaker himself,” and that Kobakhidze’s “entire parliamentary tenure” was a mistake, “apart from several exceptions.” “Kobakhidze’s statement does not contribute to unity within the team, and I think he should have refrained from making such statements; if he considered something a mistake, it would be better to speak to these MPs first,” Kantaria said on April 9.
MP Gedevan Popkhadze, on his part, said he did not intend to insult anyone with his statement, and added that he would voice his position again. “I think we have to speak first, and we can judge who is right and who is wrong [only] after that,” Popkhadze noted today.
Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who serves as the chairman of the Georgian Dream party, spoke on the matter as well, telling media outlets yesterday that divergence of opinions was “completely natural” in a democratic society. “It will be a pity if Gedevan Popkhadze quits the majority; I met with him and asked him not to leave the majority, and I hope he will not,” PM Kvirikashvili said, adding that it was “impossible and even undesirable” to have a “complete unanimity” considering “the country’s current level of democracy.”