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Saakashvili Vows Peaceful Transfer After Meeting With Ivanishvili

  • RFE/RL

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has said the transition of power to Georgia's new government will be peaceful in an effort to further ease fears ratcheted up ahead of this month's national elections.

Saakashvili made his statement after meeting with Georgian Dream coalition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili on October 9, the first such meeting since Ivanishvili's coalition won at least 83 seats in the 150-member parliament in elections on October 1.

"As the president. who is a guarantor of the constitution, I will ensure that the transition of power takes place flawlessly, it takes place in a way that has never happened before in the history of Georgia, that it takes place in the full observance of the interests of the Georgian people, takes place so that the political processes are maintained in the democratic frameworks of the country," Saakashvili said.

The two must work together despite bitter campaign charges and countercharges, as Ivanishvili is expected to become prime minister and Saakashvili's second and final term as president ends after an election a year from now.

Ivanishvili, who unveiled candidates for his cabinet earlier this week, said the meeting "serves to show that we are a cultured nation, we start a new life, and we always treat our opponents with dignity."

Ivanishvili, a billionaire businessman who campaigned on intentions to improve soured relations with Russia, said after the talks with Saakashvili that his positions on Georgia's foreign policy coincide with Saakashvili's.

"We discussed foreign policy, other issues, and our points of views, and so on," Ivanishvili said. "We have a common opinion on foreign policy, which our both sides stated before. Europe and Euro-Atlantic space is an essence of our strategy and there will be continuation of the course of the previous government. We would strive towards Europe and Georgia will become the NATO member country in the nearest future."

The poll's results have yet to be finalized due to complaints of vote rigging.

During the campaign, Ivanishvili criticized Saakashvili for social and economic problems in Georgia and made public his intention to run for president next year, when Saakashvili's second term officially ends.

Saakashvili, in turn, has accused Ivanishvili of having excessively close relations with Russia, where Ivanishvili earned much of his wealth.

Georgia's ties with neighboring Russia were badly damaged by a brief war over Georgia's Russian-backed separatist region of South Ossetia in 2008.

With reporting by Reuters,, and Interfax

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