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Georgia President concedes election defeat

  • Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili conceded defeat in the country’s parliamentary elections.

    Speaking during a live television announcement on Tuesday, he said the opposition now had the right to form a government.

    He stated: "It's clear from the preliminary results that the opposition has the lead and it should form the government. And I as president should help them with this."

    Early results indicated an opposition coalition led by billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili as voters turned away from Saakashvili, who has been in power for almost nine years.

    Ivanishvili confirmed he would take up the post of prime minister.

    During his time in office, Saakashvili has pushed through reforms and attracted international investment.

    However, in recent years his party, which controls not just the government and parliament but also the courts and prosecutor's office, of abusing its authority.

    Saakashvili will remain the leader of the country until his second and last term ends next October.

    Under a constitutional reform that comes into effect after he leaves office, many of the president's powers will be transferred to the prime minister, who is chosen by parliament.

    This is the first democratic transfer of power in Georgia's post-Soviet history.