TBILISI, DFWatch–Bidzina Ivanishvili on Saturday announced Interior Minister Irakli Gharibashvili as candidate for new prime minister.
Ivanishvili presented the new PM at a press conference at the Georgian Dream coalition headquarters at 15:15.
“According to the new constitution, the prime minister is the country’s first person,” he said.
“As I promised, we held a political council and presented our candidate. There was absolute consensus in the team about this candidate. I’m really glad that the team, which is so democratic, made the right choice. Gharibashvili created a European type police. We employed thousands of policemen. I’m sure he will be a worthy prime minister, because he deserves this position. he has a great wife, you will have a very good first lady.”
The outgoing PM has promised to leave office after the presidential election. Who will replace him was important, because a constitutional amendment will come into force as soon as the new president is sworn in.
The amendment was adopted in 2010 on initiative of President Mikheil Saakashvili and increases the power of the PM.
According to legislation, the governing coalition must select a candidate for PM as soon as a new president has been sworn in.
That Ivanishvili chose Gharinashvili as candidate is not surprising. There has long been speculation in the media about possible candidates, with Gharibashvili as one of the most likely ones, since he is regarded as the PM’s favorite.
A day before the election, Ivanishvili said he would name his successor a few days after Election Day. Later he decided to postpone the announcement, because, he said, it was ‘awkward’ to name a candidate without agreeing with the coalition’s political council and its members of parliament.
On Friday, Energy Minister Kakhi Kaladze indirectly confirmed in a TV interview that Gharibashvili would be the new PM.
“Let’s follow consistently – let’s first learn who will be the prime minister, then it is interesting who will be interior minister, what changes there will be in the cabinet if there will be any at all,” he said, adding that two ministers might change or might not.
Irakhli Gharibashvili was born in 1982. Despite his young age, he is thought to be one of Ivanishvili’s most trusted people. He graduated the Faculty of International Relations at Tbilisi State University, and later studied at Sorbonne University in Paris.
He returned to Georgia in spring of 2004 after the Rose Revolution, and took up a position as as assistant manager for Ivanishvili’s charity fund Kartu. Later, in 2005, he became Ivanihvili’s assistant and president of Kartu.
After the parliamentary election in October 2012, he was appointed interior minister.
Members of Saakashvili’s National Movement party have accused Gharibashvili of protecting his own relatives, and as an example point to how his wife’s father was released from prison.
The National Movement government detained Tamaz Tamazashvili on October 11, 2011, and charged him with illegal purchase and possession of explosive devices and a weapon. He was sentenced to three years and six months in jail.
Georgian Dream said Tamazashvili was a political prisoner and after their election victory the new government released him on October 10, 2012. The government also detained several police employees who had detained Tamazashvili in 2011.
Gharibashvili also made his mark in the investigation into the so-called jihad videos. In the beginning of June, 2013, two videos were posted on Youtube that contained threats against Georgian soldiers in Afghanistan. Two days after the posting of the videos, there was a rebel attack against a Georgian base in Afghanistan, which resulted in the death of seven Georgian soldiers. After four months of investigation, Gharibashvili announced that the case was solved, but the suspect was not detained since he lives in Georgia’s breakaway region Abkhazia.
Another way Gharibashvili made an impression was by destroying the so-called ‘dirty archive’ of surveillance material amassed during Saakashvili’s government. Many also believe Gharibashvili has depoliticized the police and reduced the crime level, but the government’s opponents disagree.