Irakli Gharibashvili has resigned as Georgian prime minister, for the second time.
At a briefing on January 29, Gharibashvili, 41, announced that he would assume the role of chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party starting February 1st.
“I served our country honestly, uncompromisingly defended the interests of our country and people, and I am proud of the results we achieved with the team during this period,” said Gharibashvili.
He expressed gratitude to the party’s billionaire founder Bidzina Ivanishvili, who a month ago re-entered politics to take up the position of “honorary chairman” of Georgian Dream.
Garibashvili said the party needed to focus on securing a “convincing victory” in the parliamentary election due to be held this fall.
He did not say who was succeeding him in the post, but government mouthpiece Imedi TV reported throughout the day that it was going to be the current ruling party chair, Irakli Kobakhidze.
During his short briefing, Gharibashvili praised Georgian Dream’s “internal democracy” and said he was leaving his post according to a “principle of rotation” that has not previously been mentioned as part of the party’s governance.
In reality, the move is almost certainly linked to the billionaire Ivanishvili’s return to politics. The day of his announcement, he denied speculation of an impending government reshuffle. About a week and a half later, however, the party’s charter was altered to authorize the “honorary chairman” to nominate the prime minister.
So what happens next, formally, is that Ivanishvili will nominate a new prime minister, Georgian Dream’s political council will approve that nomination and the nominee will be approved by parliament, where Georgian Dream enjoys a majority.
Until a new PM takes office, all currently serving ministers are fulfilling their duties on an interim basis.
Georgian Dream has been in power since 2012. Its first prime minister was Ivanishvili himself, who served for just over a year.
In 2013 he announced he was quitting politics for good and handed the baton to his protege, Irakli Garibashvili, who was then just 31 years of age.
Garibashvili was PM for just over two years and later served as defense minister.
Ivanishvili made his first return to political life in 2018, making himself Georgian Dream’s chairman. After seeing the party through key presidential and parliamentary polls in 2018 and 2020, respectively, he quit politics again in early 2021.
Shortly afterward, Garibashvili became prime minister again, holding the post until today.
The man Ivanishvili tapped as his own replacement as party chair at that time was Irakli Kobakhidze, the now 45-year-old who appears set to become the next premier.