Ivanishvili confirmed as prime minister of Georgia

Bidzina Ivanishvili in the Georgian parliament in Kutaisi, 25 October Bidzina Ivanishvili was approved along with his cabinet

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Georgian tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili has been confirmed as his country's new prime minister, three weeks after his bloc's shock election victory.

Parliament, meeting in the city of Kutaisi, ratified his appointment by 88 votes in favour to 54 against.

He told MPs the new government would "develop democratic institutions and establish the rule of law".

His victory was a blow to Georgia's pro-Western President, Mikheil Saakashvili, in power since 2004.

The new prime minister, who made his fortune in Russia, is seen as someone who might mend ties with Moscow.

Georgia severed diplomatic relations with Russia in August 2008, after losing a brief but disastrous war over its breakaway territory of South Ossetia.

'Fundamental changes'

On 1 October, the Georgian Dream coalition won 85 seats to 65 for Mr Saakashvili's United National Movement.

Addressing parliament on Thursday, Mr Ivanishvili said his bloc's win had been a vote by the Georgian people for "fundamental changes".

He insisted Georgia's foreign policy would continue to be oriented towards integration with Nato and the EU.

Mr Ivanishvili will have to work together with Mr Saakashvili for the first year of the new government, after which the president is due to step down to allow a successor to be elected.

His cabinet of 19 ministers was also approved by parliament on Thursday. These include:

  • Nodar Khaduri as finance minister
  • Giorgi Kvirikashvili as economy minister
  • Former ambassador to Germany and the Netherlands Maia Panjikidze as foreign minister
  • Former ambassador to the UN Irakli Alasania as defence minister
  • Former AC Milan football star Kakha Kaladze as energy minister

In another development, Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged continuing support for South Ossetia when he received its President, Leonid Tibilov, at his country residence near Moscow.

Russia is one of the few states to recognise South Ossetia, where some 80% of residents are believed to hold Russian citizenship, as an independent state.

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