Giorgi Gakharia confirmed as new Georgian PM

Georgia’s parliament has approved a new government led by former interior minister Giorgi Gakharia, following the resignation on September 2 of Mamuka Bakhtadze.

Of 150 MPs, 98 – from the ruling Georgian Dream party – voted in favour the new government, while opposition MPs from the United National Movement abstained, and the European Georgia party boycotted the parliamentary session altogether.

New additions to the newly sworn-in government are Vakhtang Gomelauri, a former bodyguard of Georgian Dream party leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, who will replace Mr Gakharia as interior minister, and former Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili, who will head the defence ministry.

Speaking in the Georgian parliament prior to the vote, Mr Gakharia said that the Russian occupation of Georgia’s Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) and Abkhazia regions reamins the country’s main challenge. “We should always underline that 20 per cent of the Georgian economy is occupied, 20 per cent of the country’s development is occupied, 20 per cent of the country’s human capital is occupied,” he told MPs.

Mr Gakharia said that faster integration into NATO and the European Union, as well as the strengthening of relations with the US, would be the new cabinet’s main goals.

Opposition MPs were not convinced.

“You will bring Georgia back into Russia’s orbit,” said Nika Melia of the United National Movement, founded by former PM Mikheil Saakashvili.

“I will finish you,” Mr Gakharia replied to the opposition lawmaker.

The new PM’s confirmation was met with a demonstration by a small group of protesters angry at his role in the violent police crackdown on anti-Kremlin protests which took place in Tbilisi in late June.

Photo: Parliament of Georgia