Ex- Interior Minister Nominated as Head of the New State Security Agency

Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia, has nominated Vakhtang Gomelauri, former Minister of Interior, as the head of the new State Security Agency.

“Vakhtang Gomelauri is a man of principle and a just man, and I believe he will lead the State Security Agency successfully,” the PM noted.

Earlier this month Parliament approved a package of bills which envisaged the setting up of the State Security Service from August 1, which would unite some of the units which are currently within the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). Such units are: the anti-corruption agency, counter-terrorism center, counter-intelligence, operative-technical department, and special operations department.

A number of civil society organizations voiced their concerns, mainly related to potential duplication of functions between the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the planned State Security Service. They argued that the scope of the security agency should only be analytical and it should have intelligence gathering functions. According to a number of NGOs, giving investigative powers and the right to carry out other law enforcement tasks would pose a duplication of police activities, and a high risk of abuse of power.

On July 15, President Giorgi Margvelashvili signed the bill on decoupling security and intelligence agencies from the MIA into law but noted that it is not a sufficient step and the reform of the Ministry should continue in the near future.

Vakhtang Gomelauri, the Prime Minister’s nominee as a head of the Agency, now needs to be confirmed by the Georgian Parliament. He will need the support of at least 76 MPs to be approved for a six-year term. The legislative body has two weeks to consider his candidacy.

If Gomelauri is voted down by Parliament, he can be re-nominated once again. Only if he is rejected by Georgian lawmakers twice, should another candidate be selected.

If the Georgian Parliament fails to confirm a candidate for the State Security Agency by August 1, the date for the State Security Service to be established, Irakli Garibashvili will have to appoint an acting head, until a new head of the Agency is approved by the legislative body. Since Gomelauri is now nominated as head of the State Security Agency, Prime Minister Garibashvili is expected to announce the new Minister of the Interior in the upcoming days.

Nino Japarashvili

20 July 2015 11:52