TBILISI, DFWatch–Former Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said on Monday that he has not left politics, without further explanation, leaving people guessing as to what he might have meant.
“I am not leaving anything, not even politics,” Giorgi Gakharia wrote on his Facebook page on Monday. But when asked by reporters, he did not explain what exactly his plans are, stating only that he will make a public statement about it later.
Gakharia enjoys strong support among part of the population, especially after he strongly opposed the plan to arrest Nika Melia, leader of the largest opposition party UNM, and confronted his own government over this. Opting to leave office rather than preside over Melia’s arrest, he quit his post, which delayed the police operation by a few days, until the new PM Irakli Garibashvili took charge and carried through with it.
More than 200,000 people have ‘liked’ Gakharia’s farewell photo on Facebook, which is an unprecedented figure for Georgia. His next post, which was published on Monday and where he says he has not left politics, received more than 40,000 likes.
Politicians from the opposition and the ruling Georgian Dream interpreted Gakharia’s statement differently; however, both sides had a tone that was more hostile than collegial. Many even suspected that the ex-premier’s announced return to politics is a ploy to create a false opposition group with the financial support of his former boss, Bidzina Ivanishvili, in order to divert votes from the “real” opposition’s constituency.