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Burjanadze Snubs President's Choice
/ 9 Feb.'05 / 14:08
Civil Georgia

Still Only a Nominee, Nogaideli Hit Hard

Nogaideli, 40, took a hit from
the heavyweight, Burjanadze.

Parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze unleashed an unexpected salvo against the newly nominated Prime Minister, saying she disapproves of Zurab Nogaideli's nomination at that post, recently made available after Zurab Zhvania's sudden death. Although Burjanadze originally pledged to support the presidential nominee, she single-handedly destroyed the illusion that Nogaideli was a compromise candidate for the position, able to compensate for Zhvania in the post-Rose Revolution power-sharing triangle.

Speaking at a briefing in the parliament, Nino Burjanadze said Nogaideli's nomination "was a bit unexpected" and "puzzling" for her. She also claimed that another person was discussed as the most favorable candidate for the PM position during her recent consultations with President Mikheil Saakashvili. She refrained, however from naming that person.

Burjanadze also made it absolutely clear that during her consultations with Saakashvili she spoke-out against Nogaideli's nomination. Burjanadze said some personal traits possessed by the Finance Minister, such as his excessively direct manner of communication and inability to seek compromise, "bother not only [her] but also many of [Nogaideli's] colleagues."

The speaker also made a thinly veiled political warning, saying "a person able to reach compromises and able to compromise should chair the government. If Nogaideli fails to leave his uncompromising characteristics at the doorstep of the cabinet of ministers, he is likely to have some conflicts."

These recent statements shatter analysts' claims that Saakashvili tried to compensate for Zhvania's unexpected departure by appointing his closest ally, Nogaideli, to substitute for the late Prime minister in the Saakashvili-Zhvania-Burjanadze Rose Revolution power sharing triangle.

This recent step made by Burjanadze still needs to be analyzed as the political processes develop further. The Parliamentary chairperson may be signaling that she considers this "triangular" powersharing null and void. Burjanadze, a politician with approval ratings second only to Saakashvili before and after Rose Revolution, was recently sidelined, many say, thanks to the effective behind-the-scenes policies of Zhvania, who acted in accordance with Saakashvili.

Burjanadze's nominees for the shared parliamentary election list were ruthlessly ostracized by Saakashvili's allies, while these allies silently endorsed Zhvania.

Now, with Zhvania gone, Burjanadze may re-claim an independent and more visible political role.

Another explanation could very well be strictly personal. Burjanadze is known for making extremely honest statements and if she feels that Nogaideli's qualities are unsatisfactory for the position of Prime Minister, it is not unusual that she would openly sate this.

If the latter is the case, Burjanadze has seriously complicated the job of Saakashvili, who is trying hard to manage a smooth transfer of power after Zhvania's death. However, if Saakashvili is only trying to maintain the illusion of consistency, Burjanadze's statement may clear the air and ultimately prove beneficial in the long run.

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