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Georgia’s government seeks reconciliation ahead of contested election

by | Jun 2, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A government commission set up to monitor usage of administrative resources during the elections is calling for a halt in the dismissal of ministry employees before the elections are over with.

Deputy Interior Minister Eka Zghuladze released a statement on Thursday in the name of the inter-agency commission called ‘Free and Fair Elections’.

By law, the commission was set as a subsidiary of the Security Council of Georgia. It is chaired by the Secretary of the Security Council, Giga Bokeria. Its mandate is to provide for equal conditions during the upcoming parliamentary elections.

It should also keep a check on the government’s use of administrative resources, despite the fact that ministry representatives have an advisory vote in the commission.

Opposition parties and organizations can only participate in the reviewing process.

A few days ago, the commission started functioning and this is the first they make a statement in the exceedingly polarized election atmosphere.

The commission is calling for administrative structures and public schools to stop their cutbacks in staff until after the election. Zghuladze says that this is necessary to avoid the whole process being put into question.

Many are expecting education minister Dimitry Shashkin to be planning mass-firing of teachers, in light of the recent dismissal of the head of the examinsations center. If he so desires, he could use as a reason the future of reforms in the education system, as was the official background for the firing of Maya Miminoshvili.

The inter-agency commission’s move is not unexpected. After the firing of Miminoshvili, there is an expectation in society that education minister Shashkin will also fire others in his ministry. This comes while many believe there might have been a political motivation for the firing, which Miminoshvili herself has said; that she was dismissed because of the political activism of her closest family.

But Zghuladze did not address Shashkin’s controversial decision. She focused on the issue of firing teachers in general, explaining that the inter-agency commission started working a week ago and has met with stakeholders in Tbilisi’s think tank community.

Zghuladze says several organizations have expressed concern that a number of dismissals may be politically motivated. She says her commission holds the position that it is unacceptable and illegal to fire a public servant because of his or her political views, or that of their family members.

Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze explains that the latest dismissals which parts of society believe was politically motivated should become subject for further enquiry.

“But we also should consider that optimization and downsizing is currently in progress in within several sectors in the country. So it may be hard to identify for what reasons specific persons were fired.”

She made reference to NGOs that assume that headmasters of some public schools fires employees on political grounds.

The minister responded to her statement by saying that the ministry is not planning to fire teachers.

 



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