Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili says he has decided to resign after a dispute with the leader of the Georgian Dream party, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, the richest man in the country.
“We’ve had some disagreements with the leader of the ruling party,” Kvirikashvili said in a televised statement Wednesday. “I think there is a moment now when the leader of the (ruling) party should be given an opportunity to staff a new Cabinet.”
According to Georgia’s constitution, the Cabinet is required to resign along with the prime minister.
Kvirikashvili said the squabble was over economic issues.
Ivanishvili stepped down as prime minister in 2013 after just a year in office, but since then he has been widely believed to be the man in charge in Georgia. He made a political comeback in May, assuming chairmanship of the Georgian Dream party.
Experts say Kvirikashvili’s resignation is not a surprise.
“There has been friction between the now former Prime Minister and Ivanishvili for some time,” sad Paul Stronski, a senior Russia and Eurasia Program fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told VOA’s Georgian Service. “And, the wave of protests in Tbilisi over the past months indicates there is a large segment of the population that is unhappy with the status quo.”
“Kvirikashvili is a decent man who did his best to move Georgia forward,” David Kramer, a professor at the Florida State University, told VOA. “But he was burdened with constantly having to look over his shoulder to get approval from Ivanishvili. That kind of situation is not very sustainable.”
Former U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Kenneth Yalowitz said he’s concerned that “the government seems to be directed from outside.”
“Mr. Ivaniashvili, I am sure, has good intensions and good ideas, but he is not a prime minister and he is not above the process. And yet that seems to be what’s happening here,” Yalowitzm told VOA.
Ani Chkhikvadze of VOA’s Georgian service contributed to this report.