TBILISI, DFWatch — President Mikheil Saakashvili says he will continue to appoint his party members to bodies under his control.

Saturday, Saakashvili appointed Khatuna Ochiauri, member of parliament (MP) before the last election, as governor of Mtskheta Mtianeti region. He also appointed Andro Barnovi, former Rector of the Defense Academy, as governor of the Shida Kartli region.

Georgia is divided into regions, with each region headed by a governor, which is appointed and fired by the president. Even though the governors don’t have much formal power by law, they are in fact in control of their region and the local governments follow their instructions. During Saakashvili’s time as president, he has been in control of every region through his choice of governors.

Now, he moves to retain his influence on the regional level. The local population demands to replace local government members, even though the next local elections are not until 2014.

While presenting his new governors, the president said that this is an important stage of renewal and bringing in new blood, and this process will continue on the local government level.

After the Georgian Dream coalition formed a new government, the president has been trying to appoint his own party members to bodies that he still controls. These are mainly local governments, but earlier he had a wider choice as he controlled the whole government. His favorites were appointed to posts which had higher salaries than MPs, for example the post of regulating commission members.

A day before appointing new governors, it became known that Khatuna Ochiauri, who was appointed as one of the governors, also was selected to sit on one of Ltd supervisory councils at Tbilisi City Hall. Koba Khabazi, former MP of the National Movement was also given a seat on such a council.

These are new supervisory councils created to conduct oversight of Ltd companies which are subordinate to Tbilisi City Hall. This is a new invention; no such councils existed before.

Irakli Shikhiashvili, member of the City Council, said that he has received documents which say that there have been created supervisory councils to control Ltds under Tbilisi City Hall, and these councils have been filled by UNM members and their family.

He said 36 people were employed and each of them will have more than USD 1 500 in salary, more than the salary of MPs.

He added that the city government decided to create these supervisory councils on October 23, after the parliament election, but no one has known about the decision until now.