TBILISI, DFWatch — President Mikheil Saakashvili’s second term ended on Saturday, January 5.
Five years ago, on January 5, 2008, Georgia held a snap presidential election, following a period of social unrest.
The protests reached their peak on November 7, 2007, when police violently dispersed a rally and closed down a TV station. In the wake of the violence, a state of emergency was declared. Following international condemnation of the violence, Saakashvili announced a snap election to renew his popular mandate and temporarily stepped down in order to campaign for his own candidacy without violating the constitution.
After voting finished, the official results were strongly contested and foreign observers found numerous violations, but results showed that Saakashvili won with 53.47 percent of the votes. He competed against five candidates, including deceased billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili, Levan Gachechiladze, Davit Gamkrelidze, Gia Maisashvili, Shalva Natelashvili and Irina Sarishvili.
The inauguration ceremony was held January 20, 2008.
According to Georgian law, the president is elected for five years and one person cannot become president more than twice. Since Mikheil Saakashvili was first elected in 2004 after the Rose Revolution, he cannot become president from 2013.
But the National Movement government amended the constitution so that a presidential election must be held in October of the year when a presidential term is over, which means that the next election will be held in October 2013, ten months after Saakashvili’s term has ended.
The opposition criticized the president and his party for implementing such an amendments and argued that it was done to fit Mikheil Saakashivli personally, who through this amendment extended his term as president by an additional ten months.
During that grace period he will be dealing with an unexpected power-sharing situation, after the opposition Georgian Dream coalition surprisingly won the parliamentary election in October 2012 and formed a government.
Georgian Dream leader and Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has said a number of times that his coalition does not plan to impeach Saakashvili, while the president has presented a plan of cooperation with the new government until the end of his term.
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