Mikhail Saakashvili named as Georgian opposition's candidate for presidency

The united opposition parties of Georgia (Saakashvili - National Movement and Burdjanadze - Democrats) have chosen a single candidate for the presidency. This was announced yesterday by Acting President Nino Burdjanadze at a press conference in the Georgian parliament and she named Mikhail Saakashvili as their candidate.

'I am happy that we, the leaders of the opposition, have managed to reach an agreement and fight together for the future of Georgia. A new era has begun in this country and we accept the responsibility for building a democratic, free and flourishing Georgia. I am convinced that we will be successful and the people along with us,' she declared. 'The velvet revolution of roses is victorious. It was very difficult and we were very close to civil war. We now intend to win the presidential and the parliamentary elections. Our party leaders will be Nino Burdjanadze and other activists for democracy,' Mr Saakashvili announced. He said the main aims of the opposition is to establish good relations with Georgia's regions, in particular Ajaria, ensure close ties with all countries and especially Russia which, according to Mr Saakashvili, has played a positive role in recent events. The opposition also intends to carry out all the recommendations made by the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and has no plans to reject the Baker Plan.

The Baker Plan stipulates that a central elections committee be formed which includes 5 members of the governing party and 9 members of opposition parties while the committee chairman is confirmed by the president, on the recommendation of the OSCE. 'We can not guarantee any miracles within the next two months but we will meet all our obligations and at the moment we must try to maintain the country's stability,' Mr Saakashvili added. The presidential elections have been scheduled for January 4, 2004.

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