TBILISI, Georgia, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Georgia's delicate political balance could teeter following the death of Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania Thursday, reported the Financial Times.
Zhvania, who died of carbon monoxide poisoning, was widely seen as a rival of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. The Cabinet has shown signs of an ideological split in recent months, one camp led by Zhvania and ally Giorgi Baramidze, and another led by Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili and Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, both close associates of Saakashvili, who is presiding over the Cabinet in the interim..
Last month, the Cabinet division became even more apparent after Okruashvili and Baramidze held news conferences attacking each other.
The government has recently made progress in its attempts to curb corruption and crime but has encountered opposition in its plans to reintegrate the separatist South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions.
Zhvania was considered a moderate, referred to in South Ossetia as the head of Georgia's "peace party" and to Okruashvili as the head of the "war party."