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Reports: GDDG to Endorse Salome Zurabishvili as Presidential Candidate

The ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party might endorse the candidacy of MP Salome Zurabishvili for the October presidential polls, according to media reports.

Zurabishvili, a French-born career diplomat, who served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2004-2005, is a member of the Parliament of Georgia from Mtatsminda single-mandate district in Tbilisi. Zurabishvili ran for the MP seat as an independent candidate, but was politically backed by the GDDG party, which decided not to field a candidate against her.

In a similar arrangement, according to media reports, Zurabishvili will register for the polls as an independent candidate, but will be backed by the ruling party. It is, however, yet unknown whether and how the GDDG members and activists will be involved in the campaigning.

To register as a candidate, Zurabishvili, who holds French and Georgian citizenship, will have to file for renouncing her French citizenship, which she already did, according to senior GDDG MP Eka Beselia.

Although Zurabishvili is outside GDDG’s 116-member majority group and maintains the status of an independent lawmaker, her voting record and public statements have been closely aligned with that of the ruling party lawmakers.

That GDDG was planning to endorse an independent candidate, was first announced by party chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili. In an interview on July 24, Ivanishvili said the party was pondering over endorsing an independent candidate “if there is a decent independent candidate,” or letting “the opposition take this institution” if no such candidates are found.

Zurabishvili, born to an immigrant family that fled Georgia in 1921, was invited to become the country’s Foreign Minister in March 2004 by then President Mikheil Saakashvili, but was sacked in October 2005 after a confrontation with the parliamentary majority. In 2006, she went into opposition and set up a political party – Georgia’s Way, which she led until 2010.

In November 2010, Zurabishvili announced about “temporarily quitting” politics and left the country after she was appointed as a coordinator of the United Nations panel of experts on Iran. Zurabishvili returned to Georgia to run for the presidency in 2013, but her bid was rejected by the Central Election Commission on the grounds of having dual citizenship.

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