Georgia president concedes defeat

2012-10-02 14:02
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili speaks to media during the parliamentary elections at a polling station in Tbilisi, Georgia. (Efrem Lukatsky, AP)

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili speaks to media during the parliamentary elections at a polling station in Tbilisi, Georgia. (Efrem Lukatsky, AP)

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Tbilisi - Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on Tuesday conceded defeat in parliamentary polls that were set to hand a shock victory to an opposition coalition led by billionaire tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili.

"It is clear that the [opposition] Georgian Dream has won a majority," Saakashvili said in a televised speech.

Without specifying the allocation of seats, he indicated that Georgian Dream would have the majority in the new parliament.

"That means that the parliamentary majority must form a new government and I, as president, in the frame of the constitution, will facilitate the process," he said.

He said that his United National Movement party, which has dominated Georgia since the "Rose Revolution" in 2003, would go into opposition.

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

He said that although there were "deep differences" between his party and the opposition, "democracy works and the Georgian people take the decision and this is what we deeply respect".

Saakashvili conceded defeat after a bitter showdown intensified by a prison torture scandal that prompted nationwide protests ahead of the vote in the Western-backed ex-Soviet state.

Ivanishvili had already declared victory on Monday immediately after several exit polls suggested that his coalition was ahead of the ruling party.

His Georgian Dream opposition coalition was leading the United National Movement by 53.19 to 41.51% on Tuesday after a quarter of electoral precincts declared results in the proportional ballot that will decide just over half of parliamentary seats.

Read more on:    mikheil saakashvili  |  georgia

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