PM for two years – former pres. Saakashvili’s plan to return to Georgia
Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, nominated by the United Opposition as candidate for prime minister, published a video message in which he announced that he was ready to become prime minister of Georgia, but not for a full term, and also spoke about his plans.
Below – the most important moments of his statement and what assessments followed in the political spectrum and society after the address the former president.
Saakashvili stated in his address that he intends to run for the post of prime minister only for two years:
“I want to tell you that I am ready to take on this function not because I want power. I really do not miss power and I want to tell you that I will be the prime minister for an incomplete term, maximum 2 years. This will be enough to pull the country out of the swamp and move forward.”
Saakashvili shared the specific directions of his plan.
As the former President of Georgia noted in his address, he said he knows from his own experience what an unfair trial means, and said he will pay special attention to the reform of the justice system.
According to Saakashvili, after the defeat of the party of ‘the oligarch Ivanishvili’ in the upcoming elections, no one will be able to single-handedly appoint the heads of law enforcement agencies – they will be appointed by a broad consensus of the people, the political spectrum and civil society.
In particular, in the case of Saakashvili’s premiership:
● Foreign judges will be appointed
● The police functions will remain with the Ministry of Internal Affairs only formally
● The penitentiary system will be separated from the Ministry of Justice, and its head will be appointed by parliament
● The post of the head of the parliamentary committee on human rights will be taken by a representative of the opposition
When will Saakashvili return to Georgia?
This is the issue that interests the Georgian public and supporters of the ex-president the most.
In his address, Saakashvili did not say anything about the specific date of his return. Saakashvili says the most important thing for him is that his return does not cause unrest and confrontation in the country.
“I will come under such conditions, if it does not cause confrontation and unrest. It is very important that everything is peaceful. In fact, I am not going to come to power through riots, but we all agree that Georgia needs to be saved,” he said.
Obstacles on the way home
How real is Saakashvili’s arrival in Georgia and his election as prime minister? A broad discussion on this issue in the opposition spectrum has not yet begun. The ex-president also did not speak about the obstacles facing him.
Mikhail Saakashvili is not a citizen of Georgia. He was stripped of the citizenship of the country after he received the citizenship of Ukraine.
According to the Constitution of Georgia, a person who is not a citizen of Georgia cannot hold the office of Prime Minister.
Ukrainian citizenship hinders Saakashvili for other reasons: according to the Electoral Code, a foreign citizen cannot participate in the election campaign.
There is one more obstacle. The Georgian authorities have declared Mikheil Saakashvili wanted.
In Georgia, he was convicted in absentia for hiding evidence in the murder of Sandro Girgvliani, as well as for organizing the beating of deputy Valery Gelashvili. Georgian legislation prohibits detainees and convicts from working in the civil service.
Saakashvili’s United National Movement party says that they have already thought about these problems, and in case of victory, the laws will be amended to make it possible to resolve the issue of Saakashvili’s citizenship and conviction.
However, at this stage it is unclear whether a political solution will be found for the painless return of the ex-president to Georgia.
Public and political assessments
Representatives of the ruling Georgian Dream party called Saakashvili’s statement about his return to Georgia and Georgian politics ‘a comedy’.
“In the future, I see Saakashvili as a diligent, energetic prisoner, a very hardworking person who sews hats and gloves there. The law must be enforced, he has been convicted and will be sent to a penitentiary institution”, said Nukri Kantaria, a member of the parliamentary majority faction.
Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani agrees with him.
“If he decides to come, that’s not a problem. Criminal liability awaits him,” Tsulukiani said.
The leader of the opposition party European Georgia Giga Bokeria believes that Saakashvili wants to return to Georgia in order to once again rule the country alone, this is evidenced by Saakashvili’s position in relation to the proportional election system and a possible coalition government.
However, according to Bokeria, one-man rule is unacceptable, because “the country needs change and progress, not a return back.”
Other opposition parties were also skeptical about Saakashvili’s plans to return.
“The only ones who are happy with Saakashvili’s declaration of return are the ruling Georgian Dream. This is a continuation of the old political spectacle that these two parties (Sakashvili’s and the backing Georgian Dream party) are offering us,” said Levan Koberidze, a member of the Lelo opposition party.
“Saakashvili does not respect his voters. He thinks they eat whatever he gives them. Otherwise, he would not have prepared for them such an incomprehensible vinaigrette for these elections, and would have said at least when and under what circumstances he is going to come,” writes one Facebook users.