Georgian parliament approves ruling party nominee Kobakhidze as new PM

By Thomson Reuters Feb 8, 2024 | 12:52 PM

TBILISI (Reuters) – The Georgian parliament on Thursday voted to approve Irakli Kobakhidze as the South Caucasus country’s new prime minister, after the ruling Georgian Dream bloc nominated him for the office last week.

Kobakhidze, who had chaired the ruling party since 2021, is known for his fiery rhetoric and balances sometimes trenchant criticism of the West and Ukraine with statements about his country’s desire to join the European Union and the NATO military alliance.

Former prime minister Irakli Garibashvili said last month he was resigning to give a successor time to prepare for parliamentary elections due by October.

Both men are widely considered to be loyal to billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia’s richest man, a former prime minister and the founder of the Georgian Dream party.

Polls show Georgian Dream remains the most popular party, but that it has lost ground since 2020, when it won a narrow majority in parliament.

Under Georgian Dream governments, traditionally pro-Western Tbilisi has deepened its ties with Moscow since the start of the war in Ukraine.

Georgia declined to apply its own sanctions on Russia. Tbilisi says it condemns Moscow’s invasion but also accuses Ukraine of trying to drag Georgia into the war.

(Reporting by Felix Light; Editing by John Davison, Ron Popeski and David Ljunggren)