President Nominates New Head of Adjara’s Local Government

President Giorgi Margvelashvili has nominated today Tornike Rizhvadze, the CEO of the state-owned Georgian Energy Development Fund, as the new Head of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. The position became vacant after Zurab Pataradze stepped down, triggering the resignation of the region’s entire cabinet.

Rizhvadze’s candidacy was backed by the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia. Two more candidates were presented – Gocha Gugunava, a businessman turned politician, who was named by a group of local civic organizations, and Armaz Akhvlediani, a former executive secretary of the GDDG party, who was named by several opposition parties.

Margvelashvili’s decision to nominate Rizhvadze to the post ends the nearly week-long controversy over the government formation process: the President, who takes an active part in the nomination process, could have theoretically caused a constitutional crisis had he rejected to present a candidate lacking the majority support.

Speaking at a press briefing today, President Margvelashvili said he carefully examined the merits of all candidates, but considering that Rizhvadze was named by the party commanding the Supreme Council majority, his nomination “has its [certain] logic.”

The President’s decision was hailed by Supreme Council Chairman Davit Gabaidze, but was heavily criticized by opposition politicians in the region, with Asmat Diasamidze of the United National Movement saying Margvelashvili’s step demonstrated his “obedience and dependence” to the ruling party.

Together with Rizhvadze’s candidacy, Margvelashvili also submitted the new cabinet composition to the Supreme Council, the region’s 21-seat legislative assembly. The cabinet as a whole will now require confirmation by the legislature, where the ruling party commands majority of mandates.

The Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia has 14 lawmakers in the 21-member assembly, the United National Movement has four members, while the Alliance of Patriots, the European Georgia and Nino Burjanadze’s Democratic Movement have one lawmaker each.

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