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Replacement PM still shrouded in secrecy

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, October 28
The current minister of economy, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, will preserve his position as vice Prime Minister after the current PM Bidzina Ivanishvili steps down. Who might replace Ivanishvili remains unknown. However, public is already aware of who will be the deputy PM.

It should be stressed, that there was active speculation that Kvirikashvili would be the next PM after Ivanishvili stepped down.

“Kvirikashvili will remain as the deputy of the PM in economic field. However, the new Prime Minister will have the economic thinking as well,” Ivanishvili said.

Several days ago Ivanishvili gave an interview to Reuters, where he emphasized that the future Prime Minister has been selected from the current ministers.

"It will be a member of the cabinet, one of the ministers, a member of our team,” Ivanishvili told Reuters.

Many are betting that the current minister of healthcare Davit Sergeenko will be appointed.

Sergeenko was practically unknown to the public until Ivanishvili arrived. He served as head of the Ivanishvili-funded hospital in the PM’s native Sachkhere in 2006-2012.

The fact that Sergeenko is part of Ivanishvili's inner-circle adds to the speculation that he will replace Ivanishvili when the latter steps down.

Presidential candidate of the coalition Georgian Dream, Giorgi Margvelashvili, refrained from making comment concerning Sergeenko’s future prospects. However, Margvelashvili praised him, calling Sergeenko an excellent minister.

“Sergeenko is a person who achieved unprecedented success in the direction of healthcare reform. He increased social allowances, pensions and he managed to do it in the most difficult times,”Margvelashvili stated.

Statements made regarding Segeenko caused “irritation” among some presidential candidates. The leader of Democratic Movement-United Georgia, Nino Burjanadze and the leader of the United National Movement (UNM), Davit Bakradze stressed that Sergeenko lacks experience and skills for the PM’s position. They also highlighted that the process launched by Ivanishvili “looks like more to his own game” and he is not interested in what people think and want connecting the interested topic.

“It’s strange that the new PM has not been named yet, while his deputy has already been named,” Burjanadze stated.

“Sergeenko might be a good doctor, a family doctor of Ivanishvili’s children, but he should not be a prime minister,” the leader of Labor Party Shalva Natelashvili said.

Head of the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), Giorgi Targamadze, underscored that thinking about democratic values under Ivanishvili is pessimistic.

Minster of Corrections and Legal Assistance, Sozar Subari stated that all the ministers know who will be the future PM and on Ivanishvili’s decision is for the new PM. “However, active discussions over the candidate have not started yet among the MPs,” Subari stressed.

The UNM members claim that it will not have any crucial importance who will take the PM’s position.

“He will be a puppet anyway; a nominal figure, who will be ruled by Ivanishvili from the backstage,” MP, Zurab Japaridze stated.

Head of Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili, thinks that either the current Minister of Internal Affairs (MIA) Irakli Gharibashvili or Healthcare Minister Sergeenko might take the PM’s post.

“The one who will take the post should be very trustworthy for Ivanishvili. Thus, from the two individuals Gharibashvili might be chosen… However, there is another factor in case if Gharibashvili is the pick: Who will replace the interior minister?” Kakhishvili wondered.