Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania's untimely death deals a severe blow to Georgia's reform process. Political analysts have expressed concern that the loss of Zhvania's political and administrative skills will damage the Georgian's government's cohesiveness and diminish its policy-implementation ability.
Seeking to keep potential disruption to a minimum, President Mikheil Saakashvili moved quickly to fill the political void, announcing February 3 that he would assume Zhvania's duties on an interim basis. "I, as the President of Georgia, will assume the leadership of the executive authorities," Saakashvili said.
"It is very important to maintain order and discipline in the country. I want to warn everybody that all those who violate order and discipline will be answerable before the law," Saakashvili continued. "We fully control the situation, we are a strong state, we are a strong nation and we will manage to resolve [our] problems."
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Elizabeth Owen is EurasiaNet.orgs regional news coordinator in Tbilisi.