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
    +3

    Comment number 79.

    All corrupt leader and dictators should not have a place in politics anywhere on face of earth.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 78.

    Let's all hope human beings unite and think about what it truely means to be alive and stop destroying our planet, polluting our oceans, ruining our atmosphere and clearing our rainforests for the conquest of 'things'. Reality check people. You think we were meant to be consumer-object fetishists looting and toxifying our planet. WAKE UP. Relaim your mind!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 77.

    76.Warren
    Now let's all hope that this defeat will stop Georgia from joining NATO and thus expanding U.S., British and French influence in that area.
    +++



    And hope for Iranian ayatollahs' and Saudi Arabia's salafists'
    influence in the area.

    Much better, eh?

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 76.

    Now let's all hope that this defeat will stop Georgia from joining NATO and thus expanding U.S., British and French influence in that area. There is an old Irish adage, saying, "if you shake hands with the devil, you may not get it back". Georgia would do quite well to heed to it!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 75.

    I don't know which leader would be better for Georgia, but the fact that the incumbent has lost is a sign of a strong democracy. Hopefully Saakashvili can come back in a few years. Meanwhile, Russia might want to see how democracy works.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 74.

    72 Prenin : Is the future really as it was presented during the election campaign?
    That's a good question
    Georgians must remember all of the promises & hold their elected officials accountable for any blatant lies, but during elections many people espouse their dreams & reality has nothing to do with it, watch out for the dreamers who have their heads in the clouds and their feet in their mouths!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 73.

    68.Romeu

    Very good news! Saakashvili was an American puppet. Russians defeated his US-Israel
    ++++


    And replaced his with a KGB-Kremlin puppet.

    [Just like in Chechnya with a pro-Kremlin mafia-don]

    What a in improvement!


    P.S. You'll have to wait another 100 years for a U$A/Israel defeat, Ahamadinejad's, Castro's, Hujintao's, Kim Jong-un's, Putin's supporters.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 72.

    Both candidates espouse NATO and Europe. NATO will not hurry to incorporate Georgia and the EU is way over the horizon. People grow bored with things that never seem to come to fruition, (look at parts of the Balkans). Russia has said, at least since 2008, that it has no quarrel with Georgia but will not deal with Saakashvili. Is the future really as it was presented during the election campaign?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 71.

    "Putin has a way of dealing with super-rich people he does not like."
    ++++




    KGB gen. Putin reportedly owning 1/3 of GAZPROM shares invested for him abroad by Roman Abramovitch [ Chelsea club, many palaces in UK, and multimillion yachts owner, among others]


    Can you spell HYPOCRISIY?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 70.

    Maybe Belarus can learn from this election what their elections are supposed to look like.

    I am happy to see the transition looks like it will go smoothly. A nice change for this region and I hope the progress made by Georgia in combating corruption will not be lost after the transition.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 69.

    I must say: - today in Georgia people take steps and orientate themselves independently. All political leaders agree over main values that are essential for improving and making the country stronger.
    So WESTERNIZATION is the choice of Georgian people and no politicians can change this course!!!

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 68.

    Very good news! Saakashvili was an American puppet. Russians defeated his US-Israel trained army in only 2 days and now the people are expelling him. Go home to the US!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 67.

    59 powermeerkat : LOL, I don't think so, the banks are going to gamble themselves into oblivion because no one will have enough money to cover their pretend gambling losses
    The Rich will become the poor and the poor will inherit the world :o)

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 66.

    interesting mate

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 63.

    Georgia has some very colorful characters in its past , Putin has a way of dealing with super-rich people he does not like.
    Good luck.I truly hope it will turn out for the better.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 62.

    Can the war criminal Mikheil Saakashvili now be arrested and charged with killing his own citizens, in a barbaric attack in the dead off night during his tenure as a NATO-Experiment in the Caucasus.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 61.

    I know both of these guys from working in the soviet union for 20 years.
    Firstly. Ivanishvili.. A man who presided over the bankruptcy of a Moscow bank in 1998 then miraculously turned up in his native Georgia with enough cash to set up the Cartu group.
    Sakashvilli.. A man who as justice minister refused to prosecute the embezzlers of Bank Absolute who stole US investors equity.
    Disgusting prople

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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