Former Georgian Prime Minister Garibashvili returns to politics after three-year absence
Former Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has suddenly decided to return to politics.
This decision was announced earlier today at a meeting of the political council of the ruling Georgian Dream party chaired by the head of the party, Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Garibashvili will take up the position of political secretary of the Georgian Dream party, replacing Gia Volsky.
Observers say the decision is further proof of the deep crisis in which Ivanishvili and his party find themselves: Ivanishvili has brought his protege back to save the ruling party, which over the past month has been in a precarious situation.
The media also suggests that Garibashvili may take part in the elections in the Mtatsminda constituency: this mandate was released after Salome Zurabishvili, who won the 2016 majority elections to the parliament, later became president of Georgia.
Who is Garibashvili?
Irakli Garibashvili did not appear much in public after his sudden resignation in 2015, of which the public found out from a pre-recorded, five minute television address.
In his speech, Garibashvili spoke about the ‘historical results’ the country had achieved under his tenure as PM. He did not, however, say why he was resigning.
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“Any position is temporary. Only the Supreme and the Motherland are eternal. Therefore, today I made a decision to leave the post of prime minister,” he said.
Later, Ivanishvili admitted that it was he who had advised Garibashvili to resign.
Garibashvili became prime minister in 2013, replacing Bidzina Ivanishvili in the post. Prior to that, he worked as minister of the interior.
Garibashvili is one of the closest figures in Ivanishvili’s circle. He joined politics with Ivanishvili at the end of 2011. Prior to that, he worked for the billionaire for eight years.
The Georgian Dream’s political crisis
Observers regard Garibashvili’s return to the political arena as additional evidence that Georgian Dream is in the most difficult position of its six-year tenure in power.
Over the past two weeks, seven deputies from Georgian Dream have left the parliamentary majority. Several other deputies have declared their readiness to leave the party ranks.
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The reason for the split in Georgian Dream was an attempt by the parliamentary majority to nominate 10 judges with ambiguous reputations to the Supreme Court for an unlimited term.
Some deputies from Georgian Dream openly opposed this plan and left the ruling party.
More recently, the prosecutor’s office has launched a case of money laundering against the co-founders of TBC Bank, Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze.
Many say that the case is motivated by Ivanishvili’s personal issues with Khazaradze and his involvement in and oversight of the Anaklia Deep Sea Port construction in the west of the country.
The story recently became more complex when Khazaradze accused the Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia Giorgi Gakharia of threatening him with a letter in the run up to the presidential elections of 2018.
Given the turbulent atmosphere, Ivanishvili now needs a very loyal person, whom he absolutely trusts, experts say.