Georgian Premier Resigns Citing Health Problems

TBILISI (AP)–Georgia’s prime minister resigned Friday, citing health reasons after just three months on the job as President Mikhail Saakashvili’s second-in-command.

Saakashvili later nominated the outgoing premier’s top deputy to become his fifth prime minister in the five years since his election following Georgia’s Rose Revolution.

Grigol Mgaloblishvili, who was Georgia’s ambassador to Turkey before taking on the premiership, said health problems and medical treatment have made it difficult for him to give the job his full effort as Georgia struggles to recover from its August war with Russia and to keep the economy going.

"I very much regret that today, as our effort are aimed at overcoming the problems caused by the global financial crisis and Russia’s aggression, I have had to go abroad for treatment a few times in recent months," he told reporters. In Georgia, the prime minister is responsible for the economy.

Mgaloblishvili, 35, said he had tendered his resignation to Saakashvili after learning that he faces two more months of intensive treatment. He gave no details about his condition, but the government said on Dec. 31 that he had gone to Germany for a medical examination because of kidney trouble.

Mgaloblishvili said he had recommended that Saakashvili replace him with his top deputy Niki Gilauri, who is also finance minister of the small Caucasus Mountain nation. Saakashvili announced Gilauri’s nomination in televised commen’s, and his approval is all but certain because the president’s party dominates parliament.

Saakashvili named Mgaloblishvili prime minister after dismissing his predecessor, Vladimir Gurgenidze, in October after one year in the post. Mgaloblishvili then helped Saakashvili replace the wartime foreign and defense ministers and other officials in a Cabinet shake-up.

His resignation comes as Saakashvili faces growing pressure from political opponents to step down. Georgians are concerned about the economy and angry over the effects of the war, which damaged Georgia’s infrastructure, drove thousands from their homes and tightened Russia’s grip on two separatist regions.


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