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Georgia's Ivanishvili names first cabinet

Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia's Prime Minister nominee and Georgian Dream coalition leader, speaks during a ceremony to present new government member nominees at his office in Tbilisi, October 8, 2012. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

TBILISI: Georgia's Bidzina Ivanishvili announced his first cabinet Monday after his Georgian Dream coalition's shock parliamentary election win over President Mikheil Saakashvili's once dominant ruling party last week.

Ivanishvili nominated Maia Panjikidze, a former ambassador to the Netherlands, as foreign minister in the next government which is expected to be formed later this month.

He named his close ally Irakli Garibashvili as interior minister, and Irakli Alasania, a former ambassador to the United Nations, as defence minister and one of his two proposed deputy prime ministers.

"It will truly be a people's government," Ivanishvili told a news conference.

Ivanishvili has pledged to maintain Georgia's pro-Western direction and not allow the country to slip back into the economic chaos that reigned before Saakashvili was swept to power after the 2003 "Rose Revolution".

"Corruption will not be tolerated in this government," he said.

Former AC Milan football star Kakha Kaladze was nominated as minister for regional development and infrastructure, and also named as Ivanishvili's second deputy prime minister.

Veteran liberal politician David Usupashvili will be speaker of the new parliament.

Ivanishvili, the billionaire tycoon-turned-politician, expects to become prime minister in the next government, although he and his cabinet will have to be officially confirmed by his defeated rival Saakashvili, who is set to remain president for another year.

Saakashvili has promised a smooth transfer of power, and on Friday representatives of his party and Georgian Dream launched negotiations about the handover.

Ivanishvili said it was possible that he might also meet Saakashvili face-to-face on Tuesday.

Georgian Dream could hold 83 seats in the 150-seat parliament with Saakashvili's United National Movement taking the remaining 67, according to the latest unfinalised figures from the central election commission after last Monday's poll.

The prime minister is set to take on wide-ranging new powers when the presidency's role is reduced under constitutional changes that will come into force after Saakashvili's two-term rule ends in 2013, turning Georgia into a mainly parliamentary republic.

 

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