Georgian Dream has named former prime minister Irakli Gharibashvili as their candidate for prime minister.
The announcement on Thursday afternoon followed the shock resignation of Giorgi Gakharia earlier that day. Gakharia cited differences of opinion with other party leaders who were advocating for the arrest of opposition leader Nika Melia.
[Read more: Gakharia resigns as Georgian PM over Melia arrest]
Gharibashvili, the current Defence Minister, previously served as PM after replacing Bidzina Ivanishvili in 2013. In December 2015, he unexpectedly resigned and retired from politics without offering a clear explanation behind the move.
The Georgian Dream’s political council, the party’s ruling body, announced they had come to a unanimous decision to name Gharibashvili as Gakharia’s replacement.
Party chair Irakli Kobakhidze, wished Gharibashvili success in the position.
‘As you know, Irakli Gharibashvili is a co-founder of Georgian Dream and one of the leaders, who held the post of Interior Minister and later Prime Minister in the most important period for our country.’
Speaking outside the party HQ, Gharibashvili vowed to ‘restore order very soon’ after being appointed.
'It's a very emotional day for all of us. But despite that our team rapidly made decision and I want to once again thank the head of our party and the whole team for naming me on the post of Prime Minister. Of course, this is a huge responsibility and huge honour to be the Prime Minister of this country for the second time, if I am approved'.
Hearing the news, Nika Melia described Gharibashvili as ‘Ivanishvili’s wind up toy’.
‘Georgian Dream is done’, he insisted.
Gharibashvili, 38, made his political comeback in March 2019 with help of Bidzina Ivanishvili.
He is widely considered an Ivanishvili loyalist and a hardliner in his dealing with government critics. When he was first appointed PM in 2013 at just 31 years of age, the former executive at Ivanishvili’s Cartu Bank was one of the youngest world leaders.
In a poll by the International Republican Institute released in November 2019, Gharibashvili did not fare well, with 55% viewing him negatively against 33% positively.
However, Gharibashvili has proved among the most popular Georgian Dream leaders in the conservative segment of the party base, not least due to his criticism of the formerly ruling United National Movement and his involvement in the Davit Gareja border deal controversy.
[Read more on OC Media: Georgia blames former ‘senior officials’ for Davit Gareja border dispute]
Several months before his departure, Ivanishvili publicly criticised then–PM Gharibashvili by claiming that his relatives were his weak spot.
‘[Government] positions are temporary… what is eternal is god and the homeland’, Gharibashvili said in his departing words in late 2015.