Georgian PM announces resignation

Bakhtadze 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.” (File/AFP)
Updated 02 September 2019

Georgian PM announces resignation

  • Georgian media reported that the powerful interior minister Giorgi Gakharia could become the next prime minister
  • Bakhtadze said he took the decision to resign as he thinks he has accomplished his mission

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.


UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

Updated 15 September 2019

UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

  • Johnson said he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what
  • “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the Mail

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has compared himself to The Incredible Hulk in a newspaper interview emphasizing his determination to take Britain out of the European Union next month.
Johnson faces considerable legal and political hurdles but told the Mail on Sunday he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what.
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the widely read tabloid, invoking the comic book and film character known for formidable but destructive strength.
Johnson remains defiant even though Parliament has passed a law requiring him to seek an extension to the deadline if no deal is reached by mid-October. He has also lost his working majority in Parliament and been told by Scotland’s highest court that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal.
Johnson portrays himself as more convinced than ever that Britain will break with the EU at the end of October.
He will have a lunchtime meeting in Luxembourg on Monday with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to try to modify the Irish backstop that has been a main sticking point, but EU leaders did not seem impressed by Johnson’s invocation of the Hulk.
The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said the comments showed a lack of maturity.
“Even to Trumpian standards the Hulk comparison is infantile,” he tweeted. “Is the EU supposed to be scared by this? The British public impressed?“
Juncker, who has downplayed hopes of a breakthrough at Monday’s meeting, also expressed alarm that many people in Britain seem to feel a British departure without a deal with the EU would be a positive thing.
“It would be terrible chaos,” he said in an interview with Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio. “And we would need years to put things back in order. Anyone who loves his country, and I assume that there are still patriots in Britain, would not want to wish his country such a fate.”
The Oct. 31 deadline looms large because Johnson has not said he will seek another extension if no deal is reached, despite legislation passed by Parliament shortly before it was suspended.
Britain’s Supreme Court this week will rule on whether Johnson overstepped the law when he shut the legislature for a crucial five-week period.
The Liberal Democrats, who have been enjoying a revival, voted overwhelmingly at their party conference Sunday to end the Brexit process entirely if they come to power.
Party leader Jo Swinson said Article 50, which triggered Brexit, would be revoked if she becomes prime minister.
The party gained an important member Saturday with the defection of Sam Gyimah, a former Conservative minister. He is the sixth legislator to switch allegiance and join the Liberal Democrats this year.
Johnson also continues to take flak from former Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the 2016 referendum on Brexit.
Cameron said in an interview published Sunday that Johnson didn’t really believe in Brexit when he broke ranks and led the campaign to take Britain out of the EU. Cameron had been expecting Johnson’s help during the hard-fought campaign.
Cameron says of Johnson: “The conclusion I am left with is that he risked an outcome he didn’t believe in because it would help his political career.”
Cameron is giving interviews to gain publicity for his upcoming memoirs.