Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili admits election loss

 

Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili has admitted his party has lost Georgia's parliamentary election

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President Mikheil Saakashvili has admitted his party has lost Georgia's parliamentary election, in a live TV announcement.

He said the Georgian Dream bloc of his main rival, billionaire tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, had won Monday's election.

Victory for Mr Ivanishvili means the first democratic transfer of power in Georgia's post-Soviet history.

Mr Ivanishvili said the "only right decision" would now be for Mr Saakashvili to resign.

While Mr Ivanishvili, 56, is set to become prime minister, his rival, who has led the country since 2003, is due to remain in power until presidential elections next year.

Analysis

This is a momentous day for Georgian democracy but a sad one for President Saakashvili.

It has been a fierce election campaign, with mudslinging on both sides.

There were fears that the results would be disputed, which could have sparked unrest.

By admitting defeat, President Saakashvili is allowing a peaceful transition of power. And for the first time in modern Georgia's history, a change of government is the result of a peaceful election, rather than a revolution.

Western observers are calling these the most credible elections Georgia has ever known.

Mr Saakashvili's party will be in opposition, instead of enjoying the huge majority it has been used to for the past nine years.

And some voters will feel worried about this new government. Mr Ivanishvili is suspected by some of having links to the Kremlin.

Under agreed reforms, the parliament and prime minister will acquire greater powers than the president after that election.

With results in from 72% of polling stations, Georgian Dream led the party list vote, which accounts for 77 of the 150 seats, with 54% of the vote. The president's United National Movement was on 41%.

The rest of the seats are made up of 73 constituencies elected by a first-past-the-post vote.

President Saakashvili said it was clear that Georgian Dream had won a majority.

Earlier Mr Ivanishvili, Georgia's richest man, had already declared victory.

In his TV address, Mr Saakashvili said he would respect the Georgian people's decision, and his party would become "an opposition force".

"It's clear from the preliminary results that the opposition has the lead and it should form the government - and I as president should help them with this."

The US congratulated Georgians on the "historic milestone" of their parliamentary election and praised the president's response to the result.

In a later news briefing, Mr Ivanishvili called on Mr Saakashvili to admit he would not be able to retain power, to resign and call a snap presidential election.

'Good relations'

Mr Saakashvili, a pro-Western leader who champions the free market, has warned that the Georgian Dream bloc will move Georgia away from the West and back into Moscow's sphere of influence. Russia defeated Georgian forces in a brief war in 2008.

But in his briefing Mr Ivanishvili said both normalisation of relations with Russia and membership of Nato would be pursued.

Bidzina Ivanishvili with supporters, 1 Oct 12 Mr Ivanishvili celebrated with his supporters in Tbilisi on Monday night

"If you ask me 'America or Russia?', I say we need to have good relations with everybody," Mr Ivanishvili said according to AFP news agency.

Mr Ivanishvili made his fortune in Russia in the early 1990s, with stakes in the metals industry, banking and later property, including hotels. Forbes business website estimates his wealth at $6.4bn (£4bn).

His success was welcomed in Moscow where Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said it would mean more "constructive forces" entering parliament.

Vyacheslav Nikonov, deputy head of the parliament's international affairs committee in Moscow, said that in the eyes of both Mr Medvedev and President Vladimir Putin the Georgian president was a war criminal.

"Anything that would keep Saakashvili further away from the instruments of power is a plus for Russian-Georgian relations."

Landmark for Georgia

The BBC's Damien McGuinness in Tbilisi says it is a momentous day for Georgia - a day which strengthens the country's democratic credentials. Georgia has experienced much political turmoil since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The ugly election campaign had polarised the country and there were fears that the results would be disputed, our correspondent says.

Observers from the European security organisation OSCE said that "despite a very polarising campaign the Georgian people have freely expressed their will".

Georgia's Central Electoral Commission (CEC) said there had been no grave violations during the voting.

More than half of the country's population has no proper job. Older and poorer Georgians, in particular, are struggling and some feel nostalgic about the Soviet Union.

The OSCE said the election process had "shown a healthy respect for fundamental freedoms... and we expect the final count will reflect the choice of the voters".

However, the statement regretted "detentions and fines of mostly opposition-affiliated campaigners" during the campaign.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 59.

    37.Looney Limey
    34 newsman face : Putin is a midlife crisis joke! He has become a power hungry ego maniac
    +++



    My prediction for the next 20 years:KGB gen./ pres./prem/pres. Putin.

    Interspaced with terms of his factotum - Medvedev.

    Unless Russia's Muslims (Balkars, Chechens, Dagestanis, Tartars)
    gain an upper hand.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 58.

    Note the bust of Reagan behind Saakashvili. Good riddance to this fool who, stumbling over himself in his ideological zeal to make Georgia into a client cats paw of the US-UK a la Israel, left half the country "without a proper job" according to the BBC report, and dragged it into a needless war he couldn't win.

    Now perhaps Georgia can live in a more balanced relation with its neighbors.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 57.

    I can not figure out this country or what its leaders are all about. Are they pro-western? Are they pro-Moscow? Are they just seflinterested crooks? Is it really a dictatorship with a public veneer of fake 'democracy' as in Ukraine an Belarus? The US has gotten burned supporting Georgia. What's real and what's a lie in that country? Where are they going?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 56.

    2.Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells
    . . . good! Saakashvili is an American stooge .

    +++


    Is replacing him with a Soviet stooge means an improvement?

    With Moscow still occupying parts of Georgia (Abhasia ans S, Osetia)


    With only a KGB stooge forced to claim the former.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 55.

    " Older and poorer Georgians, in particular, are struggling and some feel nostalgic about the Soviet Union"

    ===

    They're not the only ones: not because I'd have wanted to live there, but because it was about the only thing to strike fear into the hearts of these accursed capitalists, now still drunk on "victory".

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 54.

    People talk about going back to Soviet Union but this is too far from reality from what Mr Ivanishvili is saying, he will establish stable communication with Russian but with sharp Europe orientation to become part of European Union.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 53.

    Lets just hope this new guy has not been pulling the wool over everyone's eyes and is not under Putin's control

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 52.

    Well, a lot could be said about Mr Saakashvilli's time in power, not all of it positive. But he has admitted defeat in an election, which is something that an awful lot of politicians are unable to do. I admit that I fully expected whoever lost the Georgian election to cry 'I woz robbed' and call out rent-a-mob. It is to Mr Saaskashvili's credit that he doesn't appear to be preparing to do that.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 51.

    After the war West did what they always do "Forget about the country that was their playground for a limited time". Now I hope that the new government brings stability to their country...

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 50.

    I am a UK national living in Georgia. The people of the UK would do well to learn from our Georgian brothers. Ivanishvili was revoked of his Georgian nationality, but he fought and fought to exact change for the masses. The people responded to his call and they exacted change. It is an exciting time here. We all feel it.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 49.

    SO, why would the Georgian people vote for a "pro-russian" party after having fought a war in recent memory? Because unlike the US/Nato war in Serbia, Russia did not indiscriminately bomb the hell out of Georgia, occupy Georgia, force regime change. There action was surgical, swift, justified. The west abandoned Georgia, forgot about the poor, the old - so did Saakashvili - Western failure.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 48.

    39 georgianbrit : Depends on the millionaire! You do not want an empty headed puppet like Mitt Romney who flies around the world insulting people
    Cannot release his tax returns because they show he cheated on his taxes for years & who thinks 47% of the people are bums

    Yours was a hard fought, polarized election & now it is time to put all that aside & work for Georgia

    Do not be like U$ Congress

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 47.

    Goes to show, money gets you power. Corruption will run rife there again.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 46.

    I'm glad of Georgian Dream's victory. My opinion of Saakashvili was quite negative, in part since I've supported Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence since not long after they declared it. It's my opinion that, given the record of three successive Georgian governments, should Georgia join an international organization, it should recognize their independence, just like Serbia and Kosovo.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 45.

    It is difficult to imagine more pro-russian government for georgia than the saakashvili government: just look at the long list of companies Russia owns in Georgia, whole Georgian economy is in Russian hands.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 44.

    calm down guys, georgia has the way all ready , russia isn't our target, western community is our way.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 43.

    36 Coordenador : Having links to both is not a bad idea, strategic importance to Russia means "they" need to keep good relations with Georgia :o)
    Being on the good side of U$A is more about trade, it's a big consumer economy
    You just have to have/make stuff or foods that the Americans will buy
    China is an emerging market too

    Cozy up to Grandma and get the family recipe for something :o)

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 42.

    Obama got what he wanted; i.e., a victory for his bromance, Vladimir.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 41.

    I'm happy for these results.
    In his 9 years, Saakashvili cracked down on corruption, enhanced Georgia economic development, but evidently pulled the county toward the west out of Moscow's sphere of influence.
    It is clear this is a direction in which Georgians did not want to go; I thought this was so, but now here is the proof.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 40.

    Those who are worried and those who are happy about possiblity that Georgia is falling back to Russia are probably wrong. Georgia just demonstrated that it is more democratic country than recently perceived. Thus, it is FURTHER FROM RUSSIA than ever before.
    Certainly, Georgia will only win from normalization of relationship and dialog with its neighbor- keeping in mind Putin's imperial ambitions

 

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