Key ministers stay in new Georgian government

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TBILISI, 19 Nov (Reuters) Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili reshuffled his cabinet today but left economic portfolios unchanged in pursuit of stability following a wave of street protests.

On Friday, Saakashvili appointed a new prime minister and lifted a state of emergency he had imposed on the volatile southern Caucasus nation that met wide criticism in the West.

The American-educated Georgian president has said he is certain his mandate will be approved in January elections and has instructed his new government to spend more time on resolving social problems.

Saakashvili nominated 36-year old Lado Gurgenidze, head of Georgia's largest private credit institution, as Prime Minister.

''We didn't change ministers from the economic bloc because we want to retain continuity of economic policy,'' Gurgenidze told journalists today Gurgenidze said the government planned to change ''social policy''.

The government's parliamentary secretary Georgi Khuroshvili said Saakashvili had proposed two changes to his cabinet: Bela Tsipuriya as Minister of Education and Science, and Koba Subeliani as Minister for Refugee Affairs.

Saakashvili said former Minister of Education and Science Kakha Lomaia would become Secretary of the National Security Council, an organisation headed by the President.

Under the Georgian constitution, the head of the government forms a cabinet of ministers in consultation with the President, after which the candidates, including the Prime Minister-designate, are confirmed by parliament.

Parliament, which is loyal to the President, is widely expected to approve his nominees for Prime Minister and cabinet of Ministers this week.

Reuters RSA RN2113

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