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Irakli Kobakhidze named next Prime Minister of Georgia

1 February 2024
Irakli Kobakhidze at the second round of Georgia's municipal election on 30 October 2021. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

The chair of the ruling Georgian Dream Party, Irakli Kobakhidze, has been chosen by the party as the next Prime Minister of Georgia, after Irakli Gharibashvili abruptly stepped down on Monday.

At a party conference on Thursday, after heaping praise on the billionaire founder and honorary chair of Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili, for several minutes, Gharibashvili confirmed rumours that Kobakhidze had been chosen.

[Read more: Who is Irakli Kobakhidze, Georgia’s next Prime Minister?]

The change comes ahead of parliamentary elections planned for October.

Kobakhidze, who is expected to be confirmed by parliament within days, would be the seventh head of the government since Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition came to power in 2012.

Kobakhidze will be replaced as the chair of the ruling party by the outgoing PM, Irakli Gharibashvili.

Following the nomination, Kobakhidze vowed to keep Gharibashvili’s cabinet intact, with the exception of Defence Minister Juansher Burchuladze, who he said had wished to stand down. Burchuladze is to be replaced by Georgian Dream MP and Vice Speaker, Irakli Chikovani.

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A carousel of prime ministers

Since coming to power, Georgian Dream have frequently switched prime ministers, usually suddenly and without proper explanation. Several of those appointed to the position were previously relative unknowns with little to no political experience.

When the party initially took power, Bidzina Ivanishvili served a short stint as PM, resigning in 2013. Reports have since persisted that he has maintained informal control over the party.

In November 2013, Ivanishvili was replaced by Gharibashvili, who abruptly resigned after a little over 25 months. 

Gharibashvili’s replacement, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, similarly stepped down before the end of his term following a fallout between him and Ivanishvili in mid-2018. Kvirikashvili’s departure came weeks after Ivanishvili publicly reversed his decision to stay out of politics in April of that year and brought ex-PM Gharibashvili on board with him.

Though Kvirikashvili did not specify concrete reasons, it was later reported he had disagreed with Ivanishvili over the Anaklia Deep Sea Port project and the latter’s objection to it.

Kvirikashvili was replaced by Mamuka Bakhtadze, who held the position for 14 months before announcing his resignation on Facebook in September 2019.

Mamuka Bakhtadze’s successor, then–Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia, resigned in February 2021. Unlike most of his predecessors, he gave a clear explanation as to why, citing the party’s insistence on arresting Nika Melia, the leader of the largest opposition party, United National Movement. Gakharia went on to form his own opposition party, For Georgia.

In early 2021, Giorgi Gakharia was replaced by Irakli Gharibashvili, a year and a half after his return to government as Defence Minister.