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Ruling Party Won’t Have Presidential Candidate

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, August 8
The Georgian Dream ruling party announced on late Monday that they will not have a presidential candidate for October 28 race and will support a “worthy independent candidate” if such appears.

Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze stated that the ruling party might not support any candidate at all.

“We will wait for the nomination of all candidates and only after make a final decision,” he said.

The statement came about an hour after the announcement of Independent MP Salome Zourabichvili that she will run for the presidency.

With the statement the former Foreign Minister, French-born Zourabichvili fostered the months-long speculations that she will be the candidate who will receive the Georgian Dream ruling party’s support.

Zourabichvili, who has already launched procedures to renounce her French citizenship and be ready for the elections with only the Georgian citizenship, claimed that she did not hold any consultations with the ruling party.

“I had consultations with only myself,” she said.

Political expert Soso Tsiskarishvili says that the absence of such consultations is unlikely, as otherwise, Zoiurabichvili will have a zero chance of winning the race.

Both the United National Movement and the European Georgia parliamentary opposition dislikes Zoirabichvili's candidacy and cite her statement that Georgia was provoked by Russia to launch the Russia-Georgia 2008 war.

They believe that the candidate who says that Georgia launched the war will do no favor to the country’s foreign policy.

Current President Giorgi Margvelashvili has not yet announced about his election plans.

Zourabichvili,66, was born in Paris, into a family of Georgian political emigrants. She attended some of the most prestigious French schools, such as the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), and began a master's program at Columbia University in New York in the academic year of 1972-1973.

She quit her studies and joined the French foreign service in 1974, becoming a career diplomat with jobs in Rome, the United Nations, Brussels, and Washington.

The first time Zourabichvili visited Georgia was in 1986 during a break from her job at the French Embassy in Washington.

Zourabichvili was Head of the Division of International and Strategic Issues of National Defence General Secretariat of France in 2001-2003. She was appointed as the Ambassador of France to Georgia in 2003.

Mikheil Saakashvili, the 3rd President of Georgia nominated her as Foreign Minister in his new government and Zourabichvili was the first female to be appointed to this post in Georgia on 18 March 2004.

Former Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli fired her in October 2005, after a series of disputes with members of parliament.

Shortly before her dismissal, Zourabichvili resigned from the French foreign service, which had continued to pay her a salary while she was a minister, and announced that she would remain in Georgia to go into politics.

In November 2005, she set up the organization Salome Zourabichvili’s Movement. In January 2006, she announced the establishment of a new political party Georgia's Way.

On 12 November 2010, Zourabichvili announced her withdrawal from the leadership of Georgia's Way and continued her career abroad, as a coordinator of UN panel of experts on Iran.

In the 2016 parliamentary elections in Georgia, now under the Georgian Dream leadership, Zourabichvili participated as Tbilisi Mtatsminda District majoritarian candidate and won the race, took her seat in the legislative body.

The Georgian Dream ruling party did not name its candidate in Mtatsminda, gave the green light to Zourabichvili.