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Saakashvili's retirement plan may not yet exist

By Messenger Staff
Friday, June 8
As always, Georgian politics is full of paradoxes. Opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili has unequivocally stated that he wants to be Georgia’s next Prime Minister. However, President Mikheil Saakashvili has yet to announce whether or not he intends to vie for that position, too.

When Saakashvili steps down from the Presidency in 2013, a series of constitutional amendments will come into play, granting the Prime Minister new and wide-ranging powers. Some see this as evidence that Saakashvili is preparing the government for his move; "pulling a Putin" by leaving the top job but retaining its power.

It was only this week when the President was asked again about his intentions. Instead of answering directly, he gave a roundabout reply touching on Parliament's relocation to Kutaisi, the importance of decentralization in government, and granting more rights to public institutions. He downplayed the personal in favour of emphasizing his commitment to reform.

No one seems to doubt that becoming Prime Minister is Saakashvili's plan. Yet his reluctance to publicly admit to this ambition is puzzling. By not divulging the United National Movement's (UNM) candidates for President and Prime Minister, it risks making the party look like it has something to hide. Of course, there may be a very simple answer - they themselves have not decided what their plan of action will be.

Regardless, if the UNM wins, the party will do as it pleases with the roles of President and Prime Minister. If they lose, that's an entirely different discussion. And no matter who is in power come 2013, the West will presumably get along with them quite well.