The Chief Executive

Georgia Table of Contents

The 1992 Law on State Power gave Shevardnadze power beyond the executive functions of presidential office. As chairman of parliament, he had the right to call routine or extraordinary parliamentary sessions, preside over parliamentary deliberations, and propose constitutional changes and legislation. As head of state, Shevardnadze nominated the prime minister, the cabinet, the chairman of the Information and Intelligence Service, and the president of the National Bank of Georgia (although the parliament had the right of approval of these officials).

Without parliamentary approval, the head of government appointed all senior military leaders and provincial officials such as prefects and mayors. Additional power came from his control of the entire system of state administration, and he could form his own administrative apparatus, which had the potential to act as a shadow government beyond the control of any other branch. Key agencies chaired by Shevardnadze in 1993 were the Council for National Security and Defense, the Emergency Economic Council, and the Scientific and Technical Commission, which advised on military and industrial questions.

In response to calls by the opposition for his resignation during the Abkhazian crisis of mid-1993, Shevardnadze requested and received from parliament emergency powers to appoint all ministers except the prime minister and to issue decrees on economic policy without legislative approval. When the Sigua government resigned in August, parliament quickly approved Shevardnadze's nomination of industrialist Otar Patsatsia as prime minister. Although Shevardnadze argued that greater central power was necessary to curb turmoil, his critics saw him setting a precedent for future dictatorship and human rights abuses.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress