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Saakashvili Outlines Priorities







Saakashvili wants Zhvania as Prime Minister
Mikheil Saakashvili, who according to the exit poll and parallel vote tabulation secured up to 90% of votes in Sunday’s presidential polls, outlined on January 4 his priorities, which would top the agenda from the very first days after he takes over the President’s office.

“The primary tasks to be implemented from the first days of my presidency include introduction of a Prime Minister’s post, appointment of a date for parliamentary elections and implementation of anti-corruption measures in the country,” Saakashvili said at a news briefing after the announcement of the exit poll results.

He said that the introduction of the cabinet of ministers with the Prime Minister’s position would help“to establish a more flexible system of governance.” He said that State Minister Zurab Zhvania, who along with Saakashvili led the street protests that resulted in ouster of Eduard Shevardnadze, will be nominated for the Prime Minster’s post. 

Saakashvili said as the appointments to the ministerial positions were made after the opposition took power, no significant reshuffle of the government is anticipated after him assuming the office. “I cannot say yet, which official or minister will keep the posts during my presidency. Minor staff changes will be made, but these reshuffles will not be wide-scale. Those, who perform their duties, will keep their posts,” Saakashvili stated. 

Saakashvili said that Interim President Nino Burjanadze would set the date for the repeat parliamentary elections “very soon.” He also pledged to retain an election alliance of his own National Movement and the Burjanadze-Democrats, led by  Nino Burjanadze and Zurab Zhvania. 

“We will have long-term cooperation. We aim at achieving success in the parliamentary elections. Interim President Nino Burjanadze will lead our bloc. I will still have to call on the population for a high voter turnout in the parliamentary elections,” Mikheil Saakashvili said. 

Overwhelming victory for the parliamentary polls will be of vital importance for Saakashvili, as he intends to introduce, what he calls an “anti-corruption bill, which will help to clean up the country from the corrupted officials.”

In 2001, by then-Justice Minister Mikhail Saakashvili proposed a bill that would allow for the confiscation of the assets that officials could not prove were acquired legally. President Shevardnadze rejected the draft then, but now the obstacles are gone.

During the press conference, Saakashvili found conciliatory words for the political troublemaker of the late, leader of Adjara Autonomous Republic Aslan Abashidze, saying he is confident they would find “a common language.” 

“Although there were some facts of voter intimidation in Adjara, I am sure Aslan Abashidze has not contributed to it. I am ready to cooperate with him, because by becoming the President of Georgia, I will become the President of the Adjarian population as well,” Mikheil Saakashvili said.

Speaking about Georgia’s foreign policy, Mikheil Saakashvili pledged to continue the course set by Shevardnadze and establish closer ties with both European Union and the United States. 

“Georgia’s integration into the Euro-Atlantic structures remains our priority, as well as close cooperation with the United States, which has done too much for our country. Of course, Russia is also very important for us, and we intend to establish new relations with this country,” Saakashvili said.

He thanked the Georgian people for support. “I was really surprised with such a high voter turnout. It was sensational,” he said. According to the official results the turnout exceeded 83%. 

“I understand that I have assumed huge responsibility before the Georgian people. But, I will do my best to justify the hopes of Georgian population. I am sure, the entire world will appreciate these really clean elections,” Saakashvili concluded. 

According to the exit polls, conducted by the U.S. polling firm Global Strategy Group, the frontrunner presidential candidate Mikheil Saakashvili received 85,6% of votes. Other candidates received less than 1%. Temur Shashiashvili and Roin Liparteliani received 0, 4 each, while Zaza Sikharulidze and Kartlos Gharibashvili – 0,1% each. 

The parallel vote tabulation (PVT) results, conducted by the election observer NGO International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, show that Mikheil Saakashvili received 96,41% of votes.

The primary official results will be published on January 5, while final results will be published a week after the elections day. However, the official results will not significantly differ from those of the exit polls and parallel vote tabulation.

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