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Saakashvili wants 'his team' to retain power

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, August 30
I want the present team of reformers to stay in state leadership after 2013. As for me, at the present moment I am fully concentrating on fulfilling those plans I am keen to complete before 2013, President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili stated in his interview with Russian Ekho Moskvi, on August 26.

Most of the questions from the Russian journalist were concerned with Georgia's new constitution, the draft of which is currently being discussed in the country. Saakashvili did not answer directly whether or not he plans to stay in power after his presidential term expires, however he said, “I have never made my intentions secret, that the team of reformers should remain in power – that's the most significant issue. If we are speaking about political personalities – actually I have never been a separate figure; I have always represented this team and we have always worked together as a team. Of course I would like this team – as an ideology of reforms – to remain in power. I would like this team to broaden. I would also like the opposition to finally be integrated into this system. While they will not like me or others in government, they will understand the key principles, which are: a non-corrupt, modernised society, looking towards the future – the Switzerland of this region with elements of Singapore. And naturally, I will do everything to make it and to secure the continuity of reforms,” Saakashvili stated.

The Georgian President mentioned that according to the new constitution model, in future no one person in the country, including himself, will be able to rule Georgia single-handedly, “This model in itself totally rules out monocracy (rule by one individual politician), because the power is not only being divided between branches of government, but in fact there will be no single centre of power. At the same time I want Parliament to gain more powers and carry out more control over the executive government and I want more people in Georgia to become stakeholders in the process of governing. All this will be profitable for the country in terms of stability, successful reforms and for making those reforms extremely transparent,” the President stated.

Saakashvili also said that threats from Russia still exist, especially during the pre-election period, as Russian politicians frequently use the conflict with Georgia to help improve their ratings. However, Georgian authority will do its best to avoid a repeating of this practice. As for NATO, the President has underlined that following the events of August 2008, the Georgian people are more certain that entry into NATO is the right decision.

The activities of the Georgian authorities, especially the draft of the new constitution are unacceptable to the Georgian opposition; they have often called the model of the new constitution as Saakashvili's personal model, which will enable him to stay in politics as Prime Minister after his presidential term expires. A similar view is also held by some Georgian analysts. “The main reason why the President started talking about constitutional amendments was not to create an acceptable constitution but to calm the street rallies being organised by the opposition as he suggested that opposition representatives collaborate in the preparation of the draft of the new Constitution. Not a single word in the present draft constitution is said that after 2013, when the current President's term expires, he cannot take some other post. Whoever says this is a balanced constitution model does not have enough information on what is written in it. What we can anticipate from the constitution is that the present authorities will confirm all changes which are acceptable to them and public interests will not be taken into account, “Soso Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger.

However, other analysts view this constitution model as quite acceptable and the statements and actions of the opposition unsatisfactory. “There will not be any model that is completely acceptable to everyone. I think that it is worth discussing this model,” analyst Soso Tsintsadze said. He also commented on oppositional activities, “No normal civil society or democratic country exists without a powerful opposition, however I cannot see any, where are they? It seems our opposition rests 12 months a year. Elections have also revealed what they can do,” Tsintsadze stated.