TBILISI, DFWatch–It is still unknown who will replace Tina Khidasheli as defense minister, but local media name three possible candidates: Irakli Sesiashvili, Koba Kobaladze and Kakhi Kakhishvili.
The decision will be made by Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who told journalists that ‘everything has a proper time’ and people will know in a few days who will be new minister.
PM said Khidasheli will continue carrying out her duties as defense minister till after her visit to the United States.
Georgian media first reported in April that Irakli Sesiashvili, head of the defense and security committee in parliament, had been prepared for this post and when asked about it, Sesiashvili gave vague answers. He said that he couldn’t discuss this issue in advance and that it’s a matter for the PM to decide, but he was ready to be where the country requires him to be. Journalists asked him whether he had received such an offer, but he responded that ‘lots of issues have been considered.’
Levan Berdzenishvili said about a month ago that Sesiashvili wanted to be minister when Tina Khidasheli made decision to abolish compulsory service in army. Sesiashvili criticized her and said that Khidasheli had only two weeks left as a minister and she didn’t have to make populist decisions. Levan Berdzenishvili said about Sesiashvili that he wanted to be minister and was impatient.
A few days ago there were reports about two more possible candidates. One of them is Major-General Koba Kobaladze, who was appointed director of State Veterans Affair Service. Another one is Prison Minister Kakhi Kakhishvili.
Kobaladze was appointed on the PM’s initiative and according to reports, he was busy with military issues rather than issues related to veterans. He showed up at military exercise fields, military exercises and closing ceremonies. He visited Afghanistan together with Defense Ministry officials. He brought Georgian-Afghan dictionaries to Georgian soldiers serving in the NATO-led mission there.
Kobaladze didn’t confirm that there had been an offer, while Kakhishvili didn’t comment. DFWatch spoke with a spokesperson for the Prison Ministry and were told that it is not true, but media still reports that the PM has consulted with Kakhishvili and that they have reached an agreement. Georgian media also report that Kakhishvili met with the U.S. ambassador several times and that they discussed Kakhishvili’s future post.