TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has named a powerful new prime minister ahead of an October parliamentary election that will set in motion a fundamental change in how the country is governed.
The new prime minister is veteran Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, who has been by Saakashvili's side since he first came to power more than eight years ago.
The party that wins the parliamentary election has the right to select the prime minister, under a 2010 constitutional reform.
Saakashvili is not eligible to run in January's presidential election, but the 2010 reform has also granted the prime minister additional powers to rival those of the president.
Saakashvili, who announced the appointment late Saturday, has not yet said what he plans to do when he leaves the presidency.