TBILISI, DFWatch–Expectations are high before a meeting between Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and President Mikheil Saakashvili now at 15:00 Monday to solve a crisis over the constitution.
Saakashvili has arrived at the government office in his electric car – this time with an escort from State Special Protection Service (SSPS).
For more than a week, the president has been refusing to receive protection from the service and instead of an armored jeep he has been driving in a tiny blue electric car.
But this was criticized by the SSPS and the government, who emphasized that the state has an obligation to protect the country’s president. Today, SSPS is providing seven escort cars.
The background for the meeting is the recent breakdown of a delicate power-sharing situation over a set of constitutional changes.
Ivanishvili, a billionaire and newcomer politically, won a surprise victory in the parliamentary election last year and heads a coalition which controls the executive branch, including the police and prosecutors. But Saakashvili, a leader of the Rose Revolution in 2003, is still president, and his party holds enough seats in parliament to block any constitutional change.
Disagreement centers around two things. The governing coalition wants to limit the powers of the president, while Saakashvili’s party wants to write into the constitution that Georgia’s foreign policy is western-oriented.
After the meeting, the two will address the media separately. The president will make his comments on the first floor of the government building, while the prime minister will hold a parallel press conference on the 12th floor to evaluate the meeting.
The area around the government office is protected by SSPS, while patrol police is guarding the entrances.
US ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland said the international community is ‘hopefully’ looking forward to the meeting.