Georgian Dream Chairperson Irakli Kobakhidze said this afternoon former Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, incumbent Defense Minister, will be the ruling party’s prime ministerial candidate following Giorgi Gakharia’s resignation over UNM chair Nika Melia’s coming detention.
MP Kobakhidze hailed Minister Garibashvili as a “professional with a distinguished experience, who can successfully lead the government and tackle challenges facing our country,” adding that Georgian Dream’s Political Council unanimously decided to put forward his candidacy.
PM-designate Garibashvili said “we will soon restore order and balance, that is important for the country to function normally within the frames of the constitution.” He named the COVID-19 pandemic and unemployment as the two most pressing issues for the new government to address.
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Garibashvili, 39, who worked in Bidzina Ivanishvili’s companies for eight years before going into politics in late 2011, served as the Interior Minister for a year before becoming the PM in November, 2013, as Ivanishvili stepped down. In December 2015 Garibashvili resigned and left the party.
Back in 2015 analysts linked Garibashvili’s resignation to sinking confidence ratings of the government, as well as the need to refresh the cabinet ahead of the 2016 Parliamentary elections. Ivanishvili stated in 2015 that Garibashvili took this step independently, although in consultation with his mentor. Ivanishvili also said he was telling Garibashvili that “his relatives would become a problem” and that “he had challenges in this regard.” Several of Garibashvili’s relatives held high positions, especially in police services, which caused opposition and media criticism.
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Infamous for his characteristic scathing criticism of the United National Movement, Garibashvili returned to politics after Bidzina Ivanishvili, GD founder selected him as the party’s Political Secretary. In September 2019, Gakharia picked Garibashvili as Defense Minister.
UNM Chair Nika Melia called Garibashvili a “wind-up doll,” arguing the nomination means that snap elections will be held soon, as the ruling party grew tired of “state capture.” “Georgian Dream is finished,” he asserted.
European Georgia’s Gigi Tsereteli reckoned the ruling party may take more “aggressive” stance with Garibashvili as PM, an effort he said would still prove “ineffective.” “Negotiations and defusing the process will be the only solution,” Tsereteli stressed.
Aleko Elisashvili, Citizens party MP, said the Georgian Dream should have chosen a Prime Ministerial candidate who would take steps toward deescalating tensions between the ruling party and the opposition. “Instead they appoint the most confrontational person,” Elisashvili stated, adding that the two Citizens MPs will not support Garibashvili’s candidacy in Parliament.