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article imageGeorgia PM vows security boost after reelection win

By AFP     Nov 22, 2016 in Politics

Georgia's acting prime minister on Tuesday pledged to meet security and economic challenges in the fervently pro-Western nation as he named a new cabinet following his party's landslide re-election victory.

"My goal as prime minister is to strengthen Georgia's democracy, security, and to ensure fast economic development," Giorgi Kvirikashvili told a news conference.

"We need to respond with fresh energy and prompt action to the new challenges that arise every day in this fast-changing world."

Georgia, which has been praised as a rare beacon of democracy in the former Soviet region, fought and lost a short but devastating war with giant northern neighbour Russia in 2008 over its breakaway region South Ossetia.

That resulted in South Ossetia being recognised as independent by Moscow.

Kvirikashvili said that almost all ministers from his previous cabinet would retain their posts in the country.

But Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri will be replaced by Economy Minister Dimitri Kumsishvili, and former business ombudsman, Giorgi Gakharia, will take over the economy ministry, he said.

Georgia's newly elected parliament is to hold a confidence vote next week and is widely expected to approve the lineup.

In power since 2012, Kvirikashvili's Georgian Dream -- which secured a 116-seat supermajority in the 150-member legislature in the parliamentary polls last month -- faces mounting criticism over its handling of Georgia's once-booming economy.

The government's immediate challenges include the need to address the national currency's 49-percent devaluation against the US dollar, persistent economic slowdown, and shrinking foreign trade.

Adding to the government's woes is Tbilisi's limited success in progressing toward long-sought EU and NATO membership as well as the continuing tensions with Moscow.

The government would also have to deal with South Ossetia next year as it is expected to hold a referendum to become a part of Russia.

Tbilisi had accused Moscow of "creeping annexation" along the frontier with the rebel region, where it says Russian border guards have moved fenceposts deeper into Tbilisi-controlled territory.

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