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Kaspi municipality mayor allegedly quitted the position under oppression

11.03.2020

 
Lado Bitchashvili, Shida Kartli

“I kept silence until today but everything has its limits. How do you dare and send flatters of unknown education and background to Kaspi municipality from outside; why do you spend the budget of Kaspi municipality residents on others, who come here from Tbilisi and Gori. You will not find any of them in Kaspi after the afternoon except the mayor, who is local. It is necessary to reach agreement with you even when appointing the cleaner. Is it your self-governance? Now, the position of the deputy mayor is vacant and do not dare to bring anybody from outside. Otherwise I promise you I will meet you personally and introduce myself. Then I will expel all of you from Saakadze square. If you want to please your relative, invite them to your homes!” it is an extract from the February 8 open letter of local Ramaz Berianidze to Shida Kartli regional governor Giorgi Khojevanishvili. The latter has not yet responded to him. 

Ramaz Berianidze told humanrights.ge that recent developments in Kaspi municipality prove his words, because on March 9, Kaspi municipality mayor Manuchar Merebashvili quitted the position one and half year earlier of term expiry. Berianidze believes the mayor resigned because of internal controversy. 

“I was founder of the Georgian Dream and our first plan was to abolish the ugliest institution – the office of the regional governor. Unfortunately, the Georgian Dream failed to keep its promises in many directions and it was one of them. When the elected mayor resigns two years before his term, it raises serious questions whether he was oppressed or not. Manuchari was man of dignity and he implemented his duties well. Simply, there was controversy between the clans,” Ramaz Berianidze said.

The colleagues were not informed about the decision of the Kaspi municipality mayor. 

“His resignation was unexpected for us and we do not know the reasons; neither had he said anything. We do not know why he resigned and where he is going,” Dali Korkomashvili said.

Member of the Kaspi municipal assembly from the United National Movement Nugzar Noniashvili said Merebashvili resigned because of his controversy with the Kaspi municipality majoritarian MP in the Parliament Irakli Mezurnishvili and regional governor Giorgi Khojevanishvili.

“Manuchar Merebashvili lost position because of the internal controversy of clans. The clan is represented by the MP Irakli Mezurnishvili, Shida Kartli regional governor and the representatives of the State Security Service. Kaspi municipality mayor was not implementing their instructions and he was compelled to resign. You know elections are coming and they needed the mayor, who will implement all their instructions without objection,” Nugzar Noniashvili said.

The former mayor Manuchar Merebashvili did not confirm the information about the controversy and stated that he quitted the job based on his personal application. He denied the controversy with the majoritarian MP and the regional governor.

“I had an offer from the private company and informed political leadership about it three months ago. They asked me to make a decision later because according to the 2020 budget we had to plan new and transitional projects. Nowadays, all projects are being implemented and upon agreement I decided to resign,” the former mayor said.

Neither regional governor Giorgi Khojevanishvili nor the majoritarian MP Irakli Mezurnishvili made comments regarding the resignation of the mayor in Kaspi municipality.

Humanrights.ge was informed by reliable source that initially the mayor was not going to resign based on his personal application but he changed decision after the municipal assembly decided to impeach him. He said the chairman of the assembly is an ally of MP Irakli Mezurnishvili. The Georgian Dream has majority in the assembly. According to the same source, majority of the assembly members are in the clan of the MP Mezurnishvili and they could gather enough votes to impeach the mayor. Reportedly, Kaspi municipality mayor had controversy with the regional governor and the MP after he did not implement their instructions. Merebashvili was the only mayor out of four in the region, whose deputies were not replaced by Khojevanishvili. 

After the resignation, the snap elections of the mayor will be held during the 2020 parliamentary elections. Before the elections, deputy mayor Tamaz Tatanashvili will implement the duties of the mayor. 

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