Who Will Head The Parliament
By Giorgi Kalandadze, Civil Georgia
Vazha Lordkipanidze’s nomination to the post of the Parliamentary Chairman has divided supporters of Nino Burjanadze into two parts. However, both candidates have good chances for taking this post. The voting is scheduled for November 9.
The Parliament could not elect the new chairman on November 6th and the voting has been postponed to November 9th. It has become apparent during the debates that neither Burjanadze nor Lordkipanidze would have enough quantity of votes. It has been decided to have consultations in the factions regarding these two candidates.
“Traditionalist” faction has nominated “Citizens'” member Nino Burjanadze on November 5. “Traditionalist” faction belonged to the allies of former chairman Zurab Zhvania. Main argument of the opponents of Burjanadze’s candidature is that with her election to the post of chairman, Zhvania will restore his influence over the Parliament.
Initially 6 factions and independent parliamentarians (approximately 130 votes in total) were supporting Burjanadze. But that time her only competitor was Elguja Medzmariashvili. Medzmariashvili has rather modest experience of parliamentary work, when Burjanadze is in the Parliament for the second tem already and has been leading Legal and Foreign Relations committees.
Lordkipanidze’s nomination on November 5th reduced number of Burjanadze’s supporters. Certain parliamentarians who would have voted for Burjanadze against Medzmariashvili, moved to Lordkipanidze’s ‘team’. Vazha Lordkipanidze himself, who won elections in Bagdati district on October 21st, declared that he is ready to take chairman’s post.
Pro-Presidential factions “Tanadgoma” and “Alliance for New Georgia” are supporting Lordkipanidze as well as by faction “New Rightists” members of which have personal friendship relations with the candidate. Votes divided into two in the factions “Abkhazia” and “New Abkhazia & Christian-Democrats”.
“Tanadgoma” faction leaded by Elguja Medzmariashvili, who has been an only rival of Burjanadze on November 5, nominated Lordkipanidze’s candidature. That day Shevardnadze also made notes in favor of Medzmariashvili.
It seems that pro-Presidential forces have made good move by nominating and later withdrawing Medzmariashvili’s candidature to assess balance of forces in the Parliament.
4 factions of the “Agordzineba” block: “Agordzineba”, “United Georgia” “Socialist” and “21st Century” have not decided yet which candidate would have their votes on November 9th. They will have their decision after consulting with the leader of “Agordzineba Union” Aslan Abashidze. The block might nominate its candidate as well.
Nino Burjanadze is serving her second term in the Parliament. In 1995-99 she has been the deputy chairman of the Legal Issues Committee, consequently becoming its chairman. She is one of the authors of the Civil Code. Burjanadze is teaching at the faculty of the Law and International Relations of Tbilisi State University as well. In 1999 Burjanadze was elected to the Parliament under the list of CUG party and headed Foreign Relations committee. While serving as the Committee Chairman she started studying legal aspects f using foreign aid. At the same time Burjanadze is a vice president of OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. She has initiated creation of a special committee for Abkhazia issues in this organization.
It is expected that Burjanadze will have Shevardnadze’s support as well. She is a daughter of one of the leading figures in baking industry Anzor Burjanadze, who is a friend of Shevardnadze’s family. Her husband Badri Bitsadze is also loyal to President Shevardnadze. Unconfirmed sources say on November 5th that Bitsadze has been proposed to take Prosecutor-General’s chair, which is vacant since Gia Meparishvili’s resignation on November 1st. If this information is true, there would be suspicious coincidence with the elections of the parliamentary chairman.
Vazha Lordkipanidze has returned to the big politics after winning in the elections in Bagdati district on October 21. He has returned in the Parliament, which forced President to not to nominate Lordkipanidze’s candidature for the post of State Minister in 2000. Lordkipanidze was appointed State Minister in 1998, succeeding Niko Lekishvili, who has resigned from the post calling upon other members of government to follow him. Before that, since 1995 Lordkipanidze was Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary of Georgia to the Russian Federation. Therefore he has very good relations with Russian political spheres.
Lordkipanidze always had been in Shevardnadze’s team, though President’s position caused his defeat before Zhvania’s team and retirement from the politics in spring of year 2000. After that former state minister started teaching career at Tbilisi State University. Sources have been saying that time that chair of the rector of the University might have been vacated for Lordkipanidze.
Interest of mass media towards Lordkipanidze’s person is being connected to the charity activities of famous entrepreneur Badri Patarkatsishvili, who officially is in exile at the moment. With Patarkatsishvili’s financial support Lordkipanidze has brought back to Georgia precious icons form Europe. Patarkatsishvili financed science expedition to India. The expedition’s aim was to carry back remains of Saint Ketevan, Georgian queen, tortured to death in Iran in 17th century for her faith. Lordkipanidze was leading the expedition.
He has returned to the Parliament by winning in the election on October 21st. On November 6th, very day when the Parliament approved his authority, Lordkipanidze declared his claim for the post of Parliamentary Chairman, the post, which was held by his political rival Zurab Zhvania just few days ago.
On November 9th it would be decided who will be the next chairman – Nino Burjanadze, Vazha Lordkipanidze or other, yet unknown candidate. Everything depends on the position of “Agordzineba” members. Couloirs say that “Citizens” may support “Agordzineba”s candidate to ensure that Lordkipanidze will not be elected. “Agordzineba” is definitely against Burjanadze’s candidature. But it is remarkable, that “Agordzineba” will not have the final decision without Aslan Abashidze’s approval, which would definitely have consultations with Shevardnadze about the elections in the Parliament. If the third candidature emerges in result of these consultations, then this would be a political figure enjoying trust from both Shevardnadze and Abashidze.