Nino Burjanadze Rival for President Saakashvili

Azerbaijan, Baku, 25 September / Trend corr. E.Tariverdiyeva/ The decision of Georgian Parliament's ex-Speaker Nino Burjanadze to return to country's advanced political life made her the main rival of President Mikheil Saakashvili, in case of early elections.

"Nino Burjanadze is becoming a dangerous rival of Saakashvili and may replace him in future," British expert on Georgia Ksenia Skvortsova said.

Ex-Speaker of the Georgian Parliament Nino Burjanadze will announce establishment of her own party in near future "Intensive consultations are being held in this connection and the results will be released in near future," she said to Kvela Siakhle newspaper.

Nino Burjanadze and President Saakashvili have become the main leaders of the Revolution of Roses in 2004. Burjanadze was the Speaker of the Parliament from the president's party group. She has been acting as President two times so far.

Burjanadze left the system after opposition demonstrations were severely dispersed in Tbilisi in November 2007. She refused to top the parliamentary lists of the governing party during the May parliamentary elections and decided to create Democratic Development Fund NGO.

After the Georgia-Russia conflict over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which killed thousands people, Burjanadze, former partner of Saakashvili, said to Financial Times Deutshland "the country experienced such a tragedy and the people have the right to know the truth," adding that the war had brought President Saakahsvili to "a very complicated situation".

"The most important is to find out whether Georgia could have avoided the war, what the authorities could do to avoid the drama," she said.

At the same time, observers took the fact that Burjanadze announced establishment of her own party as a serious intention to return to the political life of the country. Furthermore, several analysts say she may take the presidential position in case of early elections.

Nino Burjanadze was unavailable for interviewing during preparation of the article.

The official statement of Burjnadze's Fund about establishment of a new party aroused suppositions that she is going to become the president, independent Georgian expert Soso Tsintsadze said. 

"The governing party takes Nino Burjanadze as a serious strength and rival," he said to Trend .

The political prestige of Burjanadze and the support by West will be the key arguments in her struggle for presidential position.

Burjanadze has her own political ambitions. And she is the most likely presidential candidate, independent Russian expert Vladimir Pribilovski, President of the Panorama research centre, said.

"Saakashvili may lose the next presidential elections, which are most likely to be early elections, to Burjanadze," Pribilovski said to Trend in a telephone conversation from Moscow.

Skvortsova also believes Burjanadze is the most probable rival to Saakashvili at the elections. "She is the most dangerous opponent for the governing party led by Saakashvili," Skvortsova, expert of the Risk Control Centre, said to Trend in a telephone conversation from London.

Burjanadze is supported by the United States, which is proved by her visits to New York and Washington and meetings with representatives of leading political forces.

According to Tsintsadze, Burjnadze is a real force. And it has turned out that the force is supported by the democratic West and United States' both parties, owing to which the new player has a good chance to take the highest position in the country.

According to Burjanadze, she held very important meetings in western countries, which enable her to say that the support from the United States is great. "It was West to do its utmost to prevent Tbilisi from being bombed. It is West to do everything to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. Georgia will have West's support, should another political force come to power," Burjanadze said to journalists in Tbilisi.

Given the West's support, Georgia's political course is unlikely to radically change after Burjanadze comes to power.

"Her policy will not dramatically differ from that of Saakashvili's. It will still be pro-West, anti-Kremlin, but more weighted and without jerky actions," said Pribilovski.

Tbilisi-based N.Kirtskhalia and Baku-based E.Ostapenko contributed in the article.

The correspondent can be contacted at [email protected]

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