Salome Zurabishvili Sworn-in as New President
Salome Zurabishvili, 66, was sworn in as Georgia’s fifth president for a six-year term on December 16 in an oath-taking ceremony in the eastern Georgian town of Telavi.
“I, the President of Georgia, before the God and the Nation, declare to observe the Constitution of Georgia, defend the independence, unity and indivisibility of the country, to perform faithfully the duties of the President, to take care for the security and welfare of the citizens of my country and for the revival and might of my nation and homeland,” Zurabishvili said, holding her hand on the Georgian constitution.
After the oath-taking, Zurabishvili delivered the inauguration speech in presence of invited guests, foreign dignitaries, government members and lawmakers from the ruling party and Georgian soldiers. President Giorgi Margvelashvili attended the ceremony as well.
The oath-taking ceremony marked entry into force of the new constitution, which completes the country’s transition from semi-presidential to parliamentary system of governance.
The new constitution will further reduce president’s executive powers, a process launched in the 2010 constitutional amendments and finalized in the 2017 constitutional changes.
This also marked the last time the head of state was elected through direct ballot. According to the new constitution, which entered into force upon Zurabishvili’s inauguration, the head of state will be elected by a 300-member Electoral College for a term of five years starting from 2024.
A day before the oath-taking ceremony, on December 15, President-elect Salome Zurabishvili laid a wreath at the memorial of fallen Georgian soldiers at Heroes’ Square in Tbilisi. She also visited the Mtatsminda Pantheon, a cemetery of public figures in Tbilisi.
The Presidential runoff was held on November 28. The ruling party-backed candidate Salome Zurabishvili obtained 59.52% of the votes, while her challenger – Grigol Vashadze of the United Opposition finished with 40.48% of the votes. Vashadze did not accept the election results, citing mass election fraud.