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Georgia's prime minister resigns after mass protests

AFP  |  Tbilisi 

Georgian announced his resignation today after a series of mass protests highlighted a dramatic drop in his government's popularity.

In a televised speech, cited "a number of fundamental disagreements with the of the (ruling Georgian Dream) party," billionaire tycoon and former Bidzina Ivanishvili, as a reason for his decision.

Kvirikashvili's move, after two and a half years in power, comes amid growing popular discontent over his government's handling of the economy and after mass protests in recent months.

On June 1, thousands of people took to the streets of over allegations of political influence in a murder trial, demanding Kvirikashvili's resignation.

A mass strike of subway workers followed, virtually paralysing public transport in the city of 1.2 million people. In May, thousands rallied in the capital in protest at allegedly heavy-handed police raids on two popular nightclubs and the government's harsh anti-drug policy.

The demonstrators also demanded the resignation of and

A former banker, Kvirikashvili, 50, became in December 2015.

According to the Georgian constitution, a prime minister's resignation leads to the resignation of the entire cabinet.

The ruling party then has seven days to nominate a new who will be appointed by the country's

Analysts said that Kvirikashvili's demise was the result of a power struggle within the ruling party.

"Kvirikashvili's resignation is a logical consequence of the growing popular discontent over his performance that has recently culminated in mass street protests," told AFP.

"But primarily it shows that an internal power struggle within the Georgian Dream has entered a hot phase -- has again demonstrated who is calling the shots in Georgia," he added.

Georgia's richest man Ivanishvili stepped down as in 2013 after just a year in office but since then he has been widely believed to be the man in charge in the tiny nation.

He made a political comeback in May, assuming chairmanship of the ruling

Georgian Dream came to power in 2012, ending a decade-long dominance of the pro-Western former Mikheil Saakashvili's United and also won in 2016.

Kvirikashvili's cabinet has been implicated in a number of high-profile scandals involving Georgia's law enforcement agencies, such as what international rights groups have claimed was Georgia's complicity in the abduction in of an opposition Azerbaijani and his handover to his country's authoritarian government in January.

At today's press conference Kvirikashvili said he has disagreed with his party's leadership over economic policy matters and boasted of "Georgia's economic growth rate which is fastest in the region."

But a recent survey from the (UNICEF) showed that 22.5 per cent of Georgian households lived below the poverty line last year, compared with 20.7 per cent in 2016.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, June 14 2018. 01:10 IST