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New Cabinet Wins Confidence Vote
/ 28 Dec.'04 / 10:17
Civil Georgia

The Parliament endorsed the new cabinet and its plan of action with a 133 to 7 vote late on December 27.

The recent cabinet reshuffle comes just six months after the government received a vote of confidence from the Parliament in June.

As a result of this recent reshuffle Vano Merabishvili became the new Ministry of Police and Public Security, which was set up after a merger of the Security and Interior Ministries.

Ex-Interior Minister Irakli Okruashvili became Defense Minister, replacing Giorgi Baramidze.

Baramidze was approved as the State Minister for European Integration Issues, replacing Tamar Beruchashvili.  Baramidze is also the Vice-Premier.

Ex-Economy Minister Kakha Bendukidze became State Minister in charge of economic and governmental structural reforms. 

Former Deputy Finance Minister Lexo Alexishvili replaced Kakha Bendukidze at the post of Economy Minister.

Mikhail Svimonishvili became the new Minister of Agriculture, replacing Davit Shervashidze.

All other Ministers will remain at their positions:
Salome Zourabichvili – the Foreign Minister;
Nika Gilauri – the Energy Minister;
Giorgi Papuashvili – the Justice Minister;
Lado Chipashvili –the Healthcare Minister;
Kakha Lomaia – the Minister of Education and Science;
Goka Gabashvili – the Minister of Culture and Sport;
Eter Astemirova – the Minister of Refugees and Accommodation;
Tamar Lebanidze – the Minister of Environment;
Goga Khaindrava - the Minister of Conflict Resolution

The total number of State Ministers was also downsized as a result of the structural changes of the government.

There are four State Ministers instead of five. The positions of State Minister for Regional Management and Self-Government (held by Zurab Melikishvili, who is now the Governor of Kvemo Kartli region) is abolished. 

Zinaida Bestaeva, an ethnic Ossetian, became the State Minister for Civil Integration Issues, replacing Guram Absandze.

Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania said, while presenting the cabinet and its plan of action to the Parliament on December 27, that “the appointment of new ministers does not mean that we will change our policies.”

He said structural changes in the government should end in 2005 and  must result in a “reduction of bureaucracy.”

Zhvania stressed that particular attention should be paid to the strengthening and reforming of the defense structures, “in order to make integration into Euro Atlantic structures more realistic.”

The Prime Minister also said the government will focus on implementation of judicial reform and the establishment of effective self-governance.

A small group of opposition parliamentarians from the Republican Party, New Rights-Industrialists coalition, as well as from the newly set up Conservative Party, were against the new cabinet.

The opposition slammed the government and Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania for, as they put it, “wide-spread” human rights abuse and “mass illegal arrests.”

The New Rights-Industrialists also criticized the government for the “failed South Ossetian campaign” in August, when clashes between Georgian troops and the South Ossetian militias erupted in the breakaway region, resulting in several deaths.

However, Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania dismissed all these accusations, saying that those politicians who are criticizing the new authorities “are stuck in the past.”

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