Tbilisi (AFP) - Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Monday fired his foreign minister and replaced her with the economy minister in a surprise move that fuelled concerns about government transparency.
Analysts and opposition politicians said the demotion of the country's top diplomat highlighted the lack of openness in political decision-making in Georgia.
"Tamar Beruchashvili will be replaced as foreign minister by the economy minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili," Garibashvili told a news conference.
The prime minister did not explain the motives behind the sacking of Beruchashvili, who was appointed foreign minister less than a year ago, in November 2014.
Her replacement is a technocrat with no experience in diplomacy.
"The government's focus is on economic development and job creation and this goal determines our foreign policy and internal economic agenda," the premier said.
He thanked Beruchashvili for "the successful work she has done".
Kvirikashvili will be replaced as economy minister by Dimitry Kumsishvili, who is deputy mayor of Tbilisi, the premier said.
Analysts attributed the change of lineup to former prime minister and billionaire tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, saying that decision-making in politics ultimately rested with him.
"Decisions in Georgia are being made by an informal cabinet -- former premier Bidzina Ivanishvili and his inner circle," independent political analyst Helen Khoshtaria told AFP.
A leader of the opposition United National Movement (UNM) party, Giga Bokeria, told AFP it was of "little importance" who held a ministerial post in Georgia.
"The country is ruled single-handedly by an unaccountable person," Bokeria said.
The cabinet has remained almost unchanged since Ivanishvili came to power in 2012 with his Georgian Dream coalition.
He stepped down in 2013 and chose his protege Garibashvili to take over as premier, but it is widely believed that the tycoon continues to wield power behind the scenes over the tiny Caucasus nation of 3.7 million people.