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Georgian President names new Prime Minister

A state of emergency in Georgia has been lifted, although the news has largely been overshadowed by the resignation of the country`s Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli and the entire Cabinet. Chairman of the Bank of Georgia, Lado Gurgenidze has been named No

Zurab Nogaideli cited ill health as his reason.

Under the country’s constitution the entire cabinet must step down and a new one be approved within ten days.

Georgian parliament building, Tbilisi
Georgian parliament building, Tbilisi

President Mikhail Saakashvili has named the Chairman of the Bank of Georgia, 37-year-old Lado Gurgenidze as Nogaideli`s successor.

“This is a great honour for me and I assume it with full responsibility. I believe that the people’s message has been heard and understood. This message involves focusing on social programmes. We would do this in parallel to the reforms which we will implement in the case of my approval by the parliament. We will also focus on employment and on creating new jobs,” Gurgenidze said.      

Gurgenidze, a graduate of the Tbilisi State University and Middlebury College, has occupied a number of posts in finance and banking.

The shock news has overshadowed the lifting of emergency rule, which was imposed after violence in the streets of Tbilisi last week, when clashes between police and demonstrators left over 500 injured.

Though originally intended to last until November 21, President Saakashvili said that the restrictions were being lifted early due to the calm situation in the country.

“I want to express my gratitude to every citizen, to the whole Georgian people, who showed great wisdom and restraint and demonstrated to the entire world that we are an organized, democratic and peaceful nation. So the state of emergency will be lifted today,” Saakashvili said.

Meanwhile, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the lifting of the state of emergency in Georgia.

However, he said all democratic institutions and in particular the independent media should be fully restored in the country, otherwise the January presidential election cannot be considered fair.

Opposition plans new protests

The state of emergency meant that independent TV and radio were forbidden to gather and disseminate news.

Opposition TV channel remains off the air
Opposition TV channel remains off the air

Though these media restrictions have now been lifted, Georgia's most popular TV station, the pro-opposition Imedi TV, remains off the air.

It stopped broadcasting after being raided by special forces following last week's violence.

The authorities say it was broadcasting calls for a violent overthrow of the government, and have revoked its licence.

On Friday prosecutors hinted that Imedi would not be returning to the airwaves anytime soon.

The opposition demands that Imedi be allowed to resume broadcasts immediately, and they promise to stage more protests if this demand is not met.

Alleged Azeri hand in Georgian protest crackdown

According to RIA Novosti news agency, a telephone conversation, posted on the website of the Georgian Conservative Party, reportedly just as major anti-government protests raged through the capital Tbilisi on November 7, reveals evidence the government was planning to strengthen its crackdown on protesters.

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