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Future plans of Mikheil Saakashvili

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, February 23
The Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili has been asked a number of times about his plans for when the legal term of his presidency expires in 2013. In each of his responses he has avoided any direct reference to his future plans, mostly replying that for now he is only interested in the democratic development of the country rather than his personal plans for the future. However such answers just add to the intrigue rather than diffuse it since there are many people in Georgia including politicians and analysts who think it is unlikely that Saakashvili, at the age of 44 will quit active politics and resign for good. The most widespread speculation is that the Putin scenario will be replayed in Georgia. It is well known that in anticipation of the expiration of his presidential term, Vladimir Putin groomed Dmitri Medvedev for the role of president. In reality however it is not Medvedev who runs Russia, but the country is again run by Putin, only now as Russia’s Prime Minister. Clearly many think that the recent amendments to the Georgian constitution which increase the powers of the Prime Minister while decreasing those of the President are designed deliberately to facilitate Mikheil Saakashvili easily becoming the most powerful person in the country once again, only wearing the Prime Minister’s hat.

In an official report to the US Senate, the country’s security services state that they do not expect any serious changes to political life in Georgia. The document reflects the reality that according to the current Georgian constitution, it is possible for the current president to remain in power, but in the post of Prime Minister.

Georgian analysts are curious, is this report simply stating the reality or does it mean that US officials accept this reality and are not against it. Many from the Georgian opposition, who consider the US their ally, are confident that the West, particularly the US would not allow Saakashvili to remain in power. Another possibility is that if things continue to develop in terms of Saakashvili remaining in power these opposition forces might try to seek out alternative allies, probably in the north.

The Opposition in Georgia is heavily critical of this latter possibility as they are of the opinion that Saakashvili has reached his limit as head of state – his plans have no real future and he can no longer protect Georgia’s interests since he has been unable to maintain the country’s unity and integrity. Some political analysts also believe that even Saakashvili’s political team itself will be against him staying in power again, while some opposition representatives think that realistically representatives of the current administration will try to conduct a soft transition of power from Saakashvili to some moderate members of his team that are more acceptable to the Georgian public as well as to the west.

So, we are approaching a very interesting and rather controversial time in Georgia’s modern history. The upcoming 2012 parliamentary elections will be crucial, with the winners becoming the masters of ceremony. It is therefore unlikely that these elections will be held transparently and fairly as there is a very big stake on the table. The current leadership risks a lot if it loses power, so expect fierce, but hopefully peaceful developments in Georgian politics.