Ivanishvili nominates young loyalist as Georgian PM

By bne IntelliNews November 4, 2013

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Georgia's outgoing Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has nominated Interior Minister Irakli Garibashvili as his successor when he steps down later in November.

Ivanishvili announced November 2 the nomination of the 31-year-old, who has worked for the billionaire for most of the past decade, following meetings with leaders and MPs from the Georgian Dream coalition. The outgoing PM said the party has accepted the nomination unanimously.

"I am very glad that the right choice has been made," Ivanishvili said, according to Civil Georgia. "This man ... managed to do a miracle in one year ... He proved that he deserves to be the prime minister," he added, referring to police reforms carried out recently.

Ivanishvili previously pledged to stand down immediately after Georgia's October 27 presidential elections. That vote saw Georgian Dream candidate Georgi Margvelashvili elected to replace departing president Mikheil Saakashvili in the first round.

Garibashvili is the youngest member of Ivanishvili's cabinet. Before entering politics in 2011 he worked for eight years at companies and other organisations connected to the billionaire and his family, most recently as the head of the Cartu charitable foundation.

Under the Georgian constitution, the cabinet will resign after Margvelashvili's inauguration on November 17. The new administration, including Garibashvili, will have to be approved by parliament. That is expected to be a formality, since Georgian Dream enjoys a strong majority since defeating Saakashvili's United National Movement (UNM) in the October 2012 parliamentary elections.

Assuming his confirmation, Garibashvili will on November 24 take on an enhanced role. Many of the powers formerly held by the president have now been transferred to the prime minister and parliament under recent changes to the constitution.

Saying he has achieved his goal of reshaping Georgia's political system, Ivanishvili claims he will move into civil society after leaving office. However, the opposition - and some analysts - worry that with loyalists in both the president's and PM's chairs, he will continue to call the shots.

"Garibashvili is simply not the right fit for the prime minister's job. He lacks basic skills and experience," insisted Giorgi Baramidze, a lawmaker from UNM, according to AFP. "Ivanishvili has only chosen him for his personal loyalty."

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