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TBILISI — 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 Mr. Saakashvili’s side since he first came to power more than eight years ago. Mr. Merabishvili is best known for ambitious reforms that turned Georgia’s notoriously corrupt police into a professional force.

Under constitutional changes approved in 2010, the prime minister will gain additional powers to rival those of the president.

No longer tasked primarily with economic matters, the prime minister will have the power to name Cabinet members, including the ministers of the interior and defense, and to shape policies.

The president, however, will remain commander in chief.

The changes go into effect after the January presidential election. Mr. Saakashvili is not eligible to run, and he has not yet said what he plans to do when he leaves the presidency.

He has not excluded becoming prime minister, but that would bring unwelcome comparisons to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who spent the past four years as prime minister to sidestep a constitutional ban on two consecutive presidential terms.


International Criminal Court turns 10 years old

THE HAGUE — Ten years ago, the treaty that created the International Criminal Court (ICC) came into force, creating the world’s first permanent war-crimes tribunal.

But as the anniversary is marked Sunday, allegations of state-sponsored atrocities in Syria are piling up, and the court stands powerless to intervene, while the first person it indicted, Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, is still at large and his brutal militia, the Lord’s Resistance Army, continues its reign of terror.

The court’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, came into force July 1, 2002. It says The Hague-based tribunal is “determined to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators” of atrocities.

Ad hoc tribunals set up to prosecute the perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in individual conflicts such as the wars in the former Yugoslavia and in Sierra Leone have succeeded in putting on trial the most senior political and military leaders - from Radovan Karadzic to Charles Taylor.

But the permanent ICC so far has started just three trials and convicted only one person, Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga.


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