Europe

Georgia profile - Leaders

  • 7 December 2016
  • From the section Europe
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Giorgi Margvelashvili was elected with the endorsement of former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili

President: Giorgi Margvelashvili

Giorgi Margvelashvili took office in November 2013, bringing to an end the decade-long presidency of charismatic reformer Mikhail Saakashvili.

Mr Margvelashvili, a former philosophy lecturer, assumed a weakened role because constitutional changes that come into force with his inauguration transferred a raft of key powers from the president to the prime minister.

He had little political experience and was seen as beholden to billionaire Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, whose coalition drove Mr Saakashvili's party from power in the 2012 parliamentary elections.

Mr Saakashvili's tumultuous decade in power saw him transform the tiny Caucasus nation, while getting sucked into a disastrous five-day war with Russia over the breakaway republic of South Ossetia in 2008.

He came to power after the 2003 Rose Revolution and rammed through reforms to combat corruption, renovate infrastructure and kick-start a sickly economy.

Several figures close to Mr Saakashvili, including a former prime minister, have been arrested and charged with a variety of crimes. The former president himself has taken Ukrainian citizenship and now briefly served as governor of that country's Odessa Region.

Critics - including EU politicians - say this is a targeted campaign against allies of the former president. Defenders say it is a justified reckoning with the misdemeanours of the former government.

Prime Minister: Giorgi Kvirikashvili

Image copyright AFP

Giorgi Kvirikashvili took over as prime minister following the sudden resignation of his predecessor Irakli Garibashvili in December 2015.

Both men belong to the Georgian Dream coalition, which was founded by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili and drove the party of former President Mikheil Saakashvili from power in parliamentary elections in 2012.

Mr Ivanishvili assumed the newly strengthened position of prime minister, but stepped down after the inauguration of his ally Giorgi Margvelashvili as president in November 2013 and handed over to Mr Garibashvili, saying his goal - ousting Mr Saakashvili - was now done.

Many observers suspect Mr Ivanishvili continues to run the show from the sidelines - an accusation he denies.

Mr Kvirikashvili has a background in banking, and before becoming prime minister, served as economy minister, and then foreign minister, under Irakli Garibashvili,

No explanation was given for Mr Garibashvili's resignation in 2015, with some blaming Georgian Dream's falling opinion poll ratings and tension with President Giorgi Margvelashvili

The party's popularity recovered sufficiently for it to win another parliamentary election in October 2016.

Georgian Dream describes itself as pro-Western, but also says it wants to improve relations with Russia, which have been in a parlous state since the 2008 war in Ossetia.