Georgian PM names interior minister as his successor

Reuters

* PM Ivanishvili says his work done after beatingSaakashvili

* Garibashvili seen easily approved by parliament

* Prime minister post now most powerful in country

By Margarita Antidze

TBILISI, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Georgia's prime minister onSaturday proposed his close ally, Interior Minister IraklyGaribashvili, to succeed him when he steps down in the next fewweeks.

Billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili has said he will quit aspremier after Georgy Margvelashvili is sworn in as president onNov. 17. The prime minister's position is now the most powerfulin the former Soviet republic under constitutional changes whichtransferred many of the president's responsibilities.

Garibashvili still has to be nominated by parliament and approved by Margvelashvili, but both steps are a formality asIvanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition dominates the assemblyand the president is an ally of Ivanishvili.

Margvelashvili was elected last month to take over frompro-Western Mikheil Saakashvili, who spent a decade in power.

The election cemented Georgian Dream's grip on power,putting it in charge of the presidency for the first time, aswell as the government and parliament which it took control ofin a parliamentary election in October last year.

Ivanishvili says the departure of his bitter rival,Saakashvili, means his job is now done, two years after enteringpolitics following a business career in which he made a fortuneestimated at $5.3 billion.

But he could continue to wield influence as he dominatespolitics in the South Caucasus country of 4.5 million, whichfought a five-day war with Russia in 2008 and is crossed bypipelines that carry Caspian oil and gas to Europe.

The current government must resign after the inauguration.The parliament then has one week to agree on a nominee for postof prime minister, to be appointed by the president.

Ivanishvili, who will be acting premier during that week,will hand over his functions on Nov. 24 and a new cabinet willbe proposed by his successor, to be approved by parliament.

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