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Wikileaks Fuels Speculation about Georgia’s Future President

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, September 13
Whether or not one chooses to fully trust the contents of the Wikileaks cables, they are out there and are currently adding greatly to the already sizeable rumor mill concerning who will hold the position of president come election time in 2013.

Just recently, Wikileaks published the contents of talks between a former US Ambassador to Georgia and the then head of the International Republican Institute in Georgia, Dimitri Shashkin. The latter apparently suggested that current parliamentary speaker David Bakradze could be a possible future candidate for the presidency. However, currently more and more people close to the political elite suggest that Gigi Ugulava, Mayor of Tbilisi, is a more probable candidate for the president.

For now, all this remains speculation. Undoubtedly, both Bakradze and Ugulava are two major figures. It is significant that both enjoy a positive image countrywide. They both fulfill their duties diligently and there is almost no negative information about either of them. But both have their downsides as possible presidents. The opposition Christian-Democrat Movement representative Giorgi Akhlvlediani thinks that Bakradze is not a team player and he does not have support in parliament. From time to time negative hints are dropped or doubts are raised about Ugulava. But there is little to choose between them and one of the opposition leaders, Kakha Kukava, has hinted at possible schisms in the ruling party concerning the nomination of the candidate for presidency.

The Wikileaks' revelations have been met largely with silence from both the parliamentary majority and the protagonists of the cables on the US side. Even the opposition has mainly ignored the leaks. However, the current US ambassador to Georgia was at pains to stress that the issue of the next president is a decision for the Georgian people alone, though the US is willing to assist in creating a healthy environment for whoever steps into the post. Moreover, it should be remembered that new amendments introduced to the constitution have reduced all this excited talk of who the next president might be to merely a sideshow - the next prime minister will be exercising much more power as will the chair of the parliament. The question of who those people will be then is the much greater one.