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Saakashvili Promises ‘Serious’ Cabinet Reshuffle after Elections
/ 19 Nov.'07 / 18:54
Civil Georgia

The new cabinet will feature two new ministers, but President Saakashvili said “more serious changes” would probably take place after the January 5 presidential elections.

Alexander Lomaia, the education minister, and Gia Kheviashvili, the minister for refugees and accommodation, will lose their portfolios in the new cabinet, slated to be chaired by Lado Gurgenidze.

Lomaia will be replaced by his deputy, Bela Tsipuria, and Koba Subeliani, chief of Tbilisi Municipality's Public Maintenance Department, will replace Kheviashvili.

President Saakashvili said that he planned to appoint Alexander Lomaia as secretary of the National Security Council, replacing Kote Kemularia. Saakashvili said that Kemularia would become the head of a new state agency, which will be in charge of coordinating international energy and transport projects Georgia is involved in.
“I have requested Mr. Lomaia – and it was my insistent request – to become the secretary of the National Security Council. The person in this position should have the ability to react promptly to the internal and external threats which our country faces,” Saakashvili said at a meeting with a group of Georgian academics and scientists in the National Museum on November 19.

He also said that after the January 5 presidential polls his nominee for the Prime Minister’s position, Lado Gurgenidze, “would have a mandate to undertake more changes, and if needed, serious changes.”
“Some changes will probably be needed [in the cabinet]. But meanwhile new social and economic policies should be outlined, as well as a new program on employment, and a better social protection program. Further decisions will then depend on how [the ministers] from the current [cabinet] manage those [programs],” Saakashvili said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister in-waiting Lado Gurgenidze met with a group of senior lawmakers in Parliament on November 19. They started legal procedures in preparation for the actual confidence vote, which is expected for later this week.

Gurgenidze briefly outlined the main points of his new cabinet program and said that the major focus would be laid on social issues. He also said that a draft 2008 state budget should be more “socially-oriented.”

But he also added: “In the long-term, it won't be enough to focus only on social issues. We should create new jobs by attracting investment.”

The new cabinet’s program, under the name For Employment and Welfare, reads that “the new Georgian state” will be “a state for the individual” with appropriate defense capabilities, transparent state institutions, a developed civil society, freedom of speech, an independent and unbiased judiciary and guaranteed private property rights.

It also reads that “public stability” in Georgia should be underpinned by:
 The restoration of territorial integrity through peaceful means and civil unity;
 Sustainable economic growth and the promotion of employment and exports;
 The promotion of dialogue between the general public, the business community, investors and the Georgian diaspora in order to achieve national consensus;
 The formation of effective governance;
 Infrastructural rehabilitation;
 NATO membership, consistent integration into the European Union.

Echoing President Saakashvili statement that more changes may take place in the cabinet after the presidential elections, Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze said more “appropriate” ministerial candidates should be nominated after the January 5 polls.

“We have no doubts that we will win in the elections,” she added.

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