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Prime Minister resigns - who will replace him?

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, December 25
The Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili, announced his resignation late on December 23.

He did not provide the reasons of the resignation, saying only that “timely coming and timely quitting” was of the utmost importance in politics.

Garibashvili also stated he had achieved serious goals while serving as the country’s top official, and named the signing of the Association Agreement (AA) and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the European Union (EU), as well as the positive visa-liberalisation report issued by the European Commission, as examples.

Garibashvili stated that ranks and titles have never been his personal goals and that his only purpose in the Government was to serve his people and country.

“There is nothing eternal but God and the homeland,” Garibashvili said after coming to power in late 2012.

He thanked the Georgian people, his colleagues and his family for continual support and wished every success to Georgia’s future Prime Minister.

What were the major achievements and downfalls of the Garibashvili’s Government?

In 2012, the Georgian Dream (GD) coalition defeated the United National Movement (UNM) in the elections and the founder of the coalition Bidzina Ivanishvili took the post of Prime Minister. Through the current Georgian constitution - adopted in the twilight months of the previous state leadership - Prime Minister and not the President is the country’s main political figure.

After Ivanishvili quit the post, he named Garibashvili - who had previously served in Ivanishvili’s Tbilisi-based Cartu Bank – as his successor, after previously advancing him to the post of Minister of Internal Affairs.

Apart from the above-mentioned agreements, Georgia also gained the NATO-Georgian Substantial Package through the leadership of Garibashvili; steps have also been taken to normalize relations with Russia; Russia simplified visas for Georgians for the first time after the 2008 Russian-Georgia August war; Georgia has planned close cooperative efforts with China and is becoming part of the China-initiated Silk Road route connecting Europe with Asia; a universal healthcare programme and the Hepatitis C elimination programme were introduced, amongst other initiatives.

As analysts say, the major drawback of the period was the serious deprecation of the national currency against the dollar.

Assessments after resignation

Majority members have stated that Garibashvili would remain as “integral part” of the GD coalition and praised the PM for his step that, according to them, revealed Garibashvili’s healthy attitude to posts.

Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli said Garibashvili achieved major goals in his time and paved a way to a new leader that was worth appreciating.

Meanwhile the opposition United National Movement (UNM) said that Garibashvili’s resignation “would” change nothing as the country’s actual ruler is Ivanishvili.

The opposition is asking for snap parliamentary elections.

Who might be Garibashvili’s replacement?

The media speculates that acting-Foreign Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili might replace Garibashvili.

Before entering politics and shortly before the 2012 elections, Kvirikashvili was the general director of the Tbilisi-based Cartu Bank, established by Ivanishvili. He held this position from 2006 to 2011.

From 2012 until September this year, Kvirikashvili served as the Minister of Economics of Georgia. On September 1, 2015, he was appointed as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Kvirikashvili was educated in the United States and has more than 12 years’ experience in the financial sector. This includes commercial bank leadership where he was CEO of one of Georgia’s top five group member banks. He is also an experienced economic policy adviser.

What are the procedures when a PM resigns?

When the Prime Minister resigns, the power of the Cabinet of Ministers, i.e the nineteen ministers of Georgia, is automatically suspended.

In a seven-day term since announcing about the Prime Minister’s resignation, the President of Georgia should name a new Prime Ministerial candidate selected by the parliamentary majority.

As the Georgian Dream (GD) coalition is the parliamentary majority, they should name the candidate.

The Prime Ministerial candidate should select the Cabinet of Ministers in a seven-year term; he can maintain the previous Cabinet or change some ministers, and present them before Parliament for confirmation.

Both the Prime Ministerial candidate and the new Cabinet of Ministers should be confirmed by a majority of parliament members, which means at least 76 votes out of the 150-seat parliament.

The Georgian Dream coalition holds 85 seats in the legislative body.

In case the legislative body fails to approve the new Cabinet of Ministers and the Prime Minister three times, the President has the right to dissolve Parliament and order snap parliamentary elections.

As the majority stated, they would name the candidate for the Prime Minister’s post by December 25.