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Ivanishvili Backtracks on Call for Georgian President's Resignation


Georgia's billionaire and opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili speak to the media during press conference in Tbilisi, October 2, 2012.

Georgia's billionaire and opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili speak to the media during press conference in Tbilisi, October 2, 2012.

The head of Georgia's opposition coalition, Bidzina Ivanishvili, is backtracking on his call for President Mikheil Saakashvili to resign.

Ivanishvili, whose coalition won Georgia's parliamentary elections, said Wednesday he was not issuing an ultimatum in asking Saakashvili to step down.

Ivanishvili also offered to cooperate with the incumbent president on the formation of a new government.

Earlier, Georgia parliament speaker David Bakradze said Ivanishvili's call violates the constitution, which requires the president to help the election winner form a new government.

The Georgian Dream coalition led by Ivanishvili, a billionaire, won Georgia's parliamentary election on Monday.

On Tuesday, Saakashvili conceded defeat and pledged 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 is expected to take that post.

Also Wednesday, Russia said it hopes Georgia's parliamentary election will help normalize relations between the two countries. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said "Georgian society has voted for changes."

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

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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