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Georgian Presidential Primer

“These are the first competitive elections ever in this country,” OSCE Ambassador Dieter Boden said yesterday.

The Presidential election in Georgia is on Jan. 5. The last presidential election in 2003 resulted in the toppling of the government, so there has been broad international interest this time. Here is a little background:

Former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze talks with Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev in 2000.

Eduard Shevardnadze, a former Soviet foreign minister, was President of Georgia from 1992 to 2003. After an election with massive fraud and corruption, widespread protests culminated in the peaceful “Rose Revolution.” Protest leader Mikheil Saakashvili was then elected president in a new election in January 2004.

Campaign posters for President Saakashvili are visible everywhere in Tbilisi.

Now, four years later, some Georgians are dissatisfied with Saakashvili, there are accusations of corruption, and no one really has any idea what will happen on election day.

I am about to leave for a few days near the Azeri border, around the hilltop fortress town of Signagi, so I will write more later.

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