TBILISI: Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili conceded a shock defeat on Tuesday to a billionaire tycoon in parliamentary polls, ending nine years of dominance that antagonised Russia and brought Tbilisi closer to the West.

Although Saakashvili remains president, the defeat of his United National Movement by Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition in Monday’s elections means he will lose control of parliament and the government.

His apparently graceful acceptance of the unexpected defeat marks one of the first times not only Georgia but any ex-Soviet state, excluding the Baltic countries, have seen a peaceful transfer of power since the fall of the USSR.

“It is clear that the (opposition) Georgian Dream has won a majority,” Saakashvili said in a dramatic televised speech after elections hailed as an “important step” for democracy by international observers.

“We, as an opposition force, will fight for the future of our country,” he said.

Ivanishvili appears the favourite to replace Saakashvili’s close ally Vano Merabishvili as prime minister although under current rules he will still have to be nominated by the president and approved by parliament. —AFP

More From This Section

What hasn’t changed since Bangladesh factory collapse

WHEN I met Rajina Aktar in February last year, her eyes were still red and her memory still fuzzy from the toxic...

Syria rivalry sharply splits jihadist ranks

Infighting among jihadist groups benefits the Assad regime

Baltics mull joint TV channel to counter Kremlin’s line

RIGA: Europe’s Baltic states are in talks to set up their own Russian-language television channel in a bid to...

Looking for laughs in the Middle East

EVERYONE thought we were crazy when we said we were going to the Palestinian territories in search of comedy. You...


Comments are closed.
Explore: Indian elections 2014
Explore: Indian elections 2014
How much do you know about Indian Elections?
How much do you know about Indian Elections?
Cartoons
E-PAPER
Front Page