Saakashvili’s Party Concedes Defeat, Georgia Set for Transition

Posted October 2nd, 2012 at 11:00 am (UTC-5)
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Georgia is heading into a political transition after voters used parliamentary elections to knock the ruling party of President Mikheil Saakashvili from power.

One day after claiming victory at the polls, 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 with the process of forming a new government. He will remain Georgia's president until his term expires next year, when many of the president's powers will be transferred to a yet-to-be chosen prime minister.

Many expect Ivanishvili will eventually be selected prime minister. He promised reporters Tuesday “there will be no political repressions 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.

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. Ivanishvili denies this.

His 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.