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Georgian Finance Minister Nominated As Prime Minister


Mamuka Bakhtadze, acting finance minister and prime minister nominee, speaks to the media in Tbilisi on June 14.
Mamuka Bakhtadze, acting finance minister and prime minister nominee, speaks to the media in Tbilisi on June 14.

Georgia's ruling party named acting Finance Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze as a candidate to become the next prime minister, a day after the resignation of the cabinet following a series of antigovernment protests in the capital, Tbilisi.

"We will accomplish the historic choice of the Georgian people to be integrated into the Euro-Atlantic space," Bakhtadze told journalists on June 14 after receiving the nomination.

He also promised "fundamental and innovative reforms, to create a new economic model that will affect every Georgian citizen."

Announcing his resignation as prime minister on June 13, Giorgi Kvirikashvili cited “disagreements” with the leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party, tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, as a reason for his decision.

Kvirikashvili had been prime minister since December 2015. His decision triggered the resignation of the whole cabinet.

Bakhtadze, 36, needs to submit a cabinet list to President Giorgi Margvelashvili within a week. Margvelashvili then will have a further seven days to submit the new cabinet to parliament for approval.

Bakhtadze, a former Georgian Railways head, was appointed acting finance minister during a sweeping government reorganization in November 2017.

Bakhtadze studied microeconomics and management at Tbilisi University and has postgraduate qualifications from Moscow State University and INSEAD. He served from 2010-2012 as executive director of the Georgian International Energy Corporation and from March 2013 as head of Georgian Railways.

A wave of demonstrations started in Tbilisi on May 31 to protest against what demonstrators said was a miscarriage of justice following the killing of two teenagers in December.

The protests stopped after June 6, but resumed on June 10 and ended on June 11 with police dismantling protesters’ tents and detaining opposition politicians and their supporters.

The demonstrations followed a series of rallies held in May by hundreds of people who took to Tbilisi streets and erected tent camps to protest an antidrug raid by police on two popular nightclubs, angered by what critics called an excessive use of force against club-goers.

They also came after mass street rallies in neighboring Armenia helped force the resignation of the prime minister and led to protest leader Nikol Pashinian being voted in by parliament as the new premier.

With reporting by AFP

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