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Saakashvili ducks issue of following in Putin’s footsteps

by | Feb 7, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – There is growing uncertainty about whether the Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili may stay on as prime minister after the end of his second term as president.

Yesterday, the editorial board of the Washington Post published a comment in which they write that Saakashvili in talks with them left open the possibility of becoming prime minister.

But Saakashvili’s administration refuses to comment.

“The president has repeatedly spoken about this issue, so I can’t see the necessity to make  additional comment,” Manana Manjgaladze, the president’s press spokesperson said Tuesday at a regular briefing.

In 2010, changes were made to the Georgian constitution which will come into force in 2013, after the presidential election, and will significantly increase the authority of the prime minister, while the presidential powers will decrease.

Many see the constitutional changes in connection with the fact that Saakashvili is reaching the end of his second term; the maximum time a president can serve in Georgia. If he wants to, the new prime ministerial powers will let him stay on at the top of government like Vladimir Putin in Russia.

The president has never specified either way whether he is going to become prime minister or not, but always avoids giving a direct answer to this question.

After he met Barack Obama January 30, the U.S. administration released a statement saying that this issue was also discussed at the meeting between the two presidents.

Washington Post’s article says, “If Georgian democracy is to grow stronger; Mr. Saakashvili will have to respect the intent of the constitutional term limit and give way to other leaders.”

Washington Times and Reuters also published articles about Saakashvili a few days ago. Washington Times writes that Mikheil Saakashvili doesn’t exclude the possibility of becoming prime minister. According to Reuters the Georgian president denies that he wants to remain in power, but as prime minister.



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