Patarkatsishvili plans to run for Georgian presidency

2_11.jpgA Georgian billionaire accused of plotting a coup on Saturday declared himself a candidate in next year’s presidential election, providing a potential high-profile leader for the former Soviet state’s opposition.

Leaders from Georgia’s main opposition parties met the government and agreed to resume negotiations on Saturday for the first time since police crushed street protests three days earlier and president Mikhail Saakashvili ordered a state of emergency.

 

A 10-party opposition coalition is trying to rally around a single candidate to challenge U.S.-ally Saakashvili, whom they accuse of corruption and economic mismanagement, after he announced an early election on Jan. 5.

 

Billionaire and opposition financier Badri Patarkatsishvili is one of the most prominent opposition figures in Georgia, which is experiencing one of its worst political crises since a civil war in the early 1990s.

 

“I have decided to participate in the presidential election,” Patarkatsishvili said in an e-mailed statement.

 

“Mr Saakashvili’s regime has completely discredited itself in the eyes of the Georgian people who will never again entrust it its destiny.”

 

But the opposition coalition denied Patarkatsishvili was its chosen presidential candidate.

 

“It’s the first I have heard of this. We are not talking about it right now,” opposition leader Tina Khidasheli told Reuters.

 

Georgia lies at the heart of the volatile Caucasus region — an east-west transit route which hosts a pipeline pumping oil from the Caspian Sea to Europe and is wedged between Russia and the Middle East.

 

Saakashvili justified imposing a state of emergency because he said Russian agents were destabilising the country, charges Moscow denies. He has aggressively pursued a pro-Western agenda since surging to power in a peaceful 2003 revolution.

 

On Friday, the Prosecutor-General’s office accused Patarkatsishvili of plotting a coup and sought to question him.

Source: Agencies

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