Monday, January 05, 2004

Georgia on my mind

A pro-US candidate has been elected the President of Georgia.

A U.S.-educated lawyer who led recent protests that ousted President Eduard A. Shevardnadze appeared to have won a sweeping victory in presidential elections Sunday, and he swiftly pledged a crackdown on corruption.

Mikheil Saakashvili, 36, a pro-Western reformer with a charismatic style and populist touch, took about 85% of the vote amid high turnout in the former Soviet republic, according to an independent exit poll.


The United States has major economic and strategic interests in Georgia, where Washington is seeking to promote stability and democracy while competing with Russia for influence. On a per-capita basis, the country of about 5 million people has been one of the largest recipients of American aid.

An overwhelming victory by Saakashvili against five opponents means "the Georgian nation is united, it means the Georgian population supports a pro-Western course, and it means that we are happy with what happened with the revolution," said Alexander Rondeli, president of the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies, an independent Tbilisi think tank.


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