Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze yesterday decreed a new structure and operating rules for the country’s cabinet of ministers. The decree abolishes the position of prime minister and subordinates the ministers directly to the president, turning the cabinet into an advisory body. Also yesterday, Shevardnadze signed a decree on strengthening Georgia’s armed forces. The decree instructs the Defense Ministry to draft a military doctrine and force-development plan, to set up a technical council of the armed forces, to work out a program for weapons repair and maintenance and for ammunition procurement, and to form before the end of 1995 a three-month emergency stock of military supplies. (17)
The government restructuring was to be expected following Shevardnadze’s electoral triumph and in view of his stated preference for a presidential government. The military modernization program can similarly be traced to Shevardnadze’s warnings during the election campaign that he does not rule out the use of force to restore Georgian sovereignty in Abkhazia if the latter continues to reject the offer of a federal status. Abkhaz leaders are currently doing just that, and are likely to portray Shevardnadze’s military modernization program as an immediate threat to Abkhazia even if the Georgian president does not yet envisage actual military operations.
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