A senior Georgian Dream lawmaker said Foreign Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Healthcare Minister Davit Sergeenko, Economy Minister Dimitri Kumsishvili and CEO of state-owned Georgian Railway Mamuka Bakhtadze are being considered by the ruling coalition among potential prime ministerial candidates.
“Several candidates are being considered; among them are: [Giorgi] Kvirikashvili, and others, including Sergeenko, Kumsishvili… Bakhtadze. I am sure we will agree on the acceptable and relevant candidacy,” leader of the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority group, MP Zviad Kvatchantiradze, told Rustavi 2 TV.
After PM Irakli Garibashvili announced resignation on December 23, Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili said he expects the ruling GD coalition to pick prime ministerial candidate on Friday and the Parliament to confirm the new government next week, before the New Year.
In autumn, 2013 when then PM Bidzina Ivanishvili was preparing for resignation Sergeenko, Kvirikashvili and Bakhtadze were among the list of rumored potential candidates for prime ministerial post. Ivanishvili picked then Interior Minister and his long-time right-hand man Irakli Garibashvili as his successor on PM’s post.
The Georgian media sources speculate that Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who is now the Deputy PM and Foreign Minister, is the most likely candidate to be picked as the next PM.
Kvirikashvili, who has spent most of his career in financial and banking sectors before becoming Economy Minister in late October 2012, was a member of Parliament in 1999-2004 with the New Rights Party; he was deputy chair of the parliamentary committee on economic policy. Kvirikashvili was director general of ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Cartu Bank in 2006-2011.
Georgian Railway CEO Mamuka Bakhtadze, whom senior GD lawmaker Kvatchantiradze named among potential candidates, is little known for wider public with no political background. He was appointed as chief executive of the Georgian Railway in late March, 2013. From October 2010 till end of 2012 he served as CEO of the Georgian International Energy Corporation, which is part of the Georgian Industrial Group.
Davit Sergeenko, a pediatric doctor, who was largely unknown to public before becoming the Healthcare Minister after the October, 2012 parliamentary elections, was head of Ivanishvili-funded hospital in billionaire’s native Sachkhere in 2006-2012. Sergeenko is mostly associated with the state-funded universal healthcare program, which has turned into one of the staples of what the government calls is its “socially-oriented” and “human-centered” policies.
Dimitri Kumsishvili, who was also named by the senior GD MP among the potential candidates, was deputy general director of Ivanishvili’s Cartu Bank in 1999-2011. He served as Deputy Economy Minister since late 2012 before becoming Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi in March, 2015. He is the Economy Minister since early September, 2015.
The Georgian media sources are also reporting that in case of Kvirikashvili’s nomination as next PM, Kumsishvili or Bakhtadze may take the post of the Finance Minister, replacing Nodar Khaduri. Rumors also swirl in the Georgian media that Mikheil Janelidze, who is now deputy foreign minister, may replace Kvirikashvili as the Foreign Minister, and secretary of PM’s economic council Giorgi Gakharia may become the Economy Minister.
President will have to formally nominate new prime ministerial candidate proposed by the largest political group in the parliament – that is the Georgian Dream coalition – within seven days. Prime Minister-designate will then nominate other cabinet members for parliament’s confidence vote, which requires support of at least 76 MPs.