TBILISI: Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze announced his resignation on Monday, sparking speculation about his successor in the country recently rocked by anti-government protests accusing the authorities of ties to Russia.
“I took the decision to resign from my post as I think that at this stage I’ve accomplished my mission,” Bakhtadze wrote on Facebook. Bakhtadze, who has been in office since June 2018, also thanked Bidzina Ivanishvili, the billionaire head of the ruling Georgian Dream party, widely believed to be calling the shots in Georgia, for his “support and confidence.”
Georgy Volsky, a lawmaker in Georgia Dream, told Russia’s Interfax news agency that the party was holding talks on its candidate for premier and would make an announcement on Tuesday.
“So far we can’t talk with 100-percent certainty about future changes in the makeup of the government,” Volsky said. Georgian media reported that the powerful interior minister Giorgi Gakharia could become the next prime minister.
In late June thousands rallied in Tbilisi in demonstrations sparked when a Russian MP gave a speech in the Georgian parliament, a hugely provocative move for two countries whose ties remain strained after a brief war in 2008.
The rallies evolved into a broader movement against Ivanishvili amid widespread anger at his party’s failure to kick-start a stagnant economy. Moscow reacted to what it called “Russophobic” protests by suspending direct flights between the countries.
Bakhtadze’s predecessor as prime minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, had stepped down after two-and-a-half years in power amid mass protests that exposed a dramatic drop in his government’s popularity.