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Saakashvili Says Not Planning to Hold Public Office

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Ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who serves as the honorary chairman of the opposition United National Movement party, says he is not planning to hold public office if UNM-led coalition’s Grigol Vashadze wins the second round of Presidential elections.

Saakashvili made the announcement in his Facebook live on November 24, and repeated the point twice later – in interviews with Rustavi 2 on November 25 and TV Pirveli on November 26.

On November 24, the former President said: “I do not want to have any public office in Georgia. I am a regional leader; in Ukraine for instance I have a party that will have no difficulties entering the Parliament, so I am not planning to take any public posts in Georgia.”

The former President said the only position he would theoretically take in the country, is the director of the free economic zone of a new port town of Lazika, which his government had intended to build on the Black Sea coast in Zugdidi Municipality not far from Abkhazia.

Saakashvili announced the idea of constructing the country’s “second largest city” between village Anaklia, close to administrative boundary with Abkhazia, and village Kulevi in the north from the port town of Poti in December 2011. In 2012, the authorities granted a special constitutional status to the area (the clause will be scrapped in the new constitution which is to come to force upon new president’s inauguration).

The Georgian Dream government dropped the Lazika development project in the aftermath of the 2012 elections, but continued with building the deep-sea port in Anaklia.

“I want to carry out projects that will bring concrete benefits to Georgia… I have my projects and I do not want to take office; they need to be filled with absolutely new people,” he noted.

“When I say I am not going to be in the government, I am not being cunning like Ivanishvili – I am not planning to sit in my mother’s house, or in my presidential library, or in my vineyard in Kvareli or in my flat in Tbilisi and govern the country from there,” he said on November 25.

Saakashvili added that his ambition is to “transform Georgia into a successful maritime country.” “I want the free economic zone of Lazika to have an English law system with British judges, zero VAT tax, free business environment and guaranteed protection of rights.”

Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s president in 2004-2013, left the country shortly after the end of his second term. He is wanted on multiple charges in Georgia, which he denies as politically motivated. Saakashvili has been actively engaged in the 2018 presidential elections, campaigning extensively for Grigol Vashadze through Facebook lives and his appearances at Rustavi 2, a television station leading strongly towards the opposition.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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