News / Europe

    Georgia’s President Saakashvili Concedes Defeat

    Georgians read newspapers on the street in Tbilisi, Georgia, October 2, 2012.
    Georgians read newspapers on the street in Tbilisi, Georgia, October 2, 2012.
    James Brooke
    Georgia’s president Mikheil Saakashvili conceded defeat Tuesday in parliamentary elections.  After a year of polarizing campaign politics, he promised to work with the opposition bloc, the Georgian Dream.

    Appearing on Georgian national television, President Saakashvili said: "It is clear that Georgian Dream has won a majority."  Conceding his party will be reduced to a minority opposition force in parliament, he vowed: "We will fight for everything that was created to modernize Georgia, to build new institutions and protect this all for future generations.”

    With 73 percent of the vote counted, his United National Movement was winning 41 percent of the vote, but the opposition Georgian Dream coalition was winning 54 percent.

    Georgia's Parliamentary Election

    • 16 political parties and blocks are contesting the election
    • All 150 parliamentary seats are being contested
    • More than 3.5 million Georgians are eligible to vote
    • More than 90 observer organizations are monitoring the vote
    Saakashvili, an American trained lawyer and close ally of the West, took pride in fostering democratic reform during his eight years as president.  But in recent years, his rule had turned increasingly authoritarian.  Several voters told VOA they decided to vote against him after watching videos on television of Tbilisi prison guards abusing and sodomizing prisoners.

    The beneficiary of the videos was Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia’s richest man and founder of the Georgian Dream. Ivanishvili also appeared Tuesday on national television.  In addition to claiming victory, he asked President Saakashvili to resign.

    That is unlikely.  The president has up to one year to set the date for presidential elections.  Once a new president is elected, the constitution mandates many presidential powers shift to the new prime minister. Ivanishvili is expected to take that post.  It is unclear how an Ivanishvili-dominated parliament will coexist with a Saakashvili presidency during the next year.

    • Supporters of an opposition Georgian Dream coalition celebrate exit poll results in Tbilisi, Georgia, October 1, 2012.
    • Georgian billionaire and opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, left, celebrates with supporters at his office in Tbilisi Georgia, October 1, 2012.
    • Opposition supporters reacts on the central square during a rally in Tbilisi, Georgia, October 1, 2012.
    • Georgians vote during Parliamentary elections at a polling station in Tbilisi, October 1, 2012. Voters in Georgia are choosing a new parliament in a heated election that will decide the future of Saakashvili's government.
    • Lines at a polling station in Tbilisi, Georgia, October 1, 2012.
    • An elderly woman casts her ballot at her home in the village of Sartichala in Georgia's Kakhety region, October 1, 2012.
    • Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, his wife Sandra Roelofs, and his son Nikoloz at a ballot box before voting in Tblisi, October 1, 2012.
    • Leader of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition, Bidzina Ivanishvili, addresses the media in Tbilisi October 1, 2012.
    • Bidzina Ivanishvili and his wife Ekaterine Khvedelidze pray in a church in Tbilisi, October 1, 2012.
    • Supporters of the opposition Georgian Dream Coalition attend an election rally in Tbilisi September 29, 2012.

    Minutes after the Georgian president conceded defeat, European observers held a pre-scheduled press conference.  Luca Volonte, who leads the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, urged the opposition to work with Saakashvili.  “For its part, the opposition must be constructive and responsible and should cooperate for the overall good of society,” said Volonte, an Italian.

    Tonino Picula, the leader of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe delegation, said the campaigning period was tilted against the opposition, but the voting was largely fair.  “Yes, I believe that Georgia passed the democracy test,” said Picula, from Croatia. “We are talking today in a very peaceful landscape.  And this is the first general election after the war.”

    Assen Agov, a Bulgarian who headed a delegation of parliamentarians from NATO countries said Monday’s democratic election and the promised peaceful transfer of power will boost Georgia’s candidacy to join NATO.  Ivanishvili, the opposition leader, repeatedly promised to uphold Georgia’s existing policy of trying to join NATO and European Union.

    But the Georgian Dream leader made his fortune, estimated at $6.4 billion, in Russia.  President Saakashvili who lost a war with Russia four years ago, has accused Ivanishvili of being a Russian agent.  Ivanishvili has responded by saying that he wants to normalize relations with Georgia’s northern neighbor, something that he says would be impossible with Saakashvili in power.

    You May Like

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.