Saakashvili’s Party Concedes Defeat, Georgia Set for Transition

Posted October 2nd, 2012 at 4:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Georgia is heading into a political transition after the opposition defeated the ruling party of President Mikheil Saakashvili in Monday's parliamentary election.

President Saakashvili conceded defeat Tuesday to the Georgian Dream coalition led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Mr. Saakashvili pledged in a televised statement to help the opposition form a new government. He will remain Georgia's president until his term expires next year. Under changes in the constitution, many of the president's powers will then transfer to a yet-to-be chosen prime minister.

Ivanishvili has said he wants to be prime minister. He promised reporters Tuesday “there will be no political repression just because some people were in the government and shared political views different from us.” But he also said anyone who committed a crime would be prosecuted.

International election monitors expressed concern over harsh campaign rhetoric and isolated incidents of violence, but pronounced the election as fair.

The White House says the United States congratulates the people of Georgia on a successful election. It calls the vote another milestone in Georgia's democratic development. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has also congratulated Ivanishvili for his party's win.

Ivanishvili has said he will seek close cooperation with both Russia and Western powers. Ivanishvili says he will not change Georgia's course toward joining the European Union and NATO.

President Saakashvili had said a victory for Georgian Dream and Ivanishvili as prime minister would move Georgia away from the West and put it back under Moscow's influence.

Georgian Dream backers accuse the president of being a dictator. They blame him for the brief but disastrous 2008 war with Russia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Mr. Saakashvili's campaign also was hurt last week when videos surfaced of prison guards beating and raping inmates.