December 25, 2015 / 8:29 AM / 2 years ago

Georgian foreign minister nominated for PM

TBILISI (Reuters) - Georgian Foreign Minister Georgy Kvirikashvili was nominated for the post of the ex-Soviet state’s prime minister on Friday after Irakly Garibashvili resigned this week less than a year before parliamentary elections.

Kvirikashvili, 48, who is also first deputy prime minister, was backed by the ruling Georgian Dream coalition. His candidacy will now be submitted to the president and approved by parliament, but the procedure is a formality.

Garibashvili gave no specific reason for his resignation, but opposition politicians linked it to a decline in the popularity of Georgian Dream which faces an election in October next year.

Kvirikashvili became deputy premier and economy minister after former premier Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream defeated former President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party in an election in October 2012 and took control both of the government and legislature.

He was appointed as foreign minister in September 2015.

Kvirikashvili spent most of his career in financial and banking sectors and was director general of Ivanishvili’s Cartu Bank in 2006-2011.

Kvirikashvili has to submit the new cabinet list to parliament and analysts do not rule out changes in the government.

The opposition blames the government for mounting economic problems in the former Soviet republic of 3.7 million, which is the subject of geopolitical rivalry between Russia and the West.

The ruling coalition’s support rating has fallen sharply to 18 percent this month from 42 percent in August 2014, according to a recent opinion poll.

Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Nick Macfie

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