Georgian opposition figure Zurabishvili quits politics

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Former Georgian foreign minister and opposition figure Salome Zurabishvili said Thursday she was leaving the country's political scene because of a lack of democracy.

"At this point there is not the minimum of democracy in Georgia required for the opposition to exist," Zurabishvili, a 58-year-old former French diplomat, told a press conference in Tbilisi.

She said she had taken a position as the head of a UN Security Council commission working on sanctions against Iran but insisted she would eventually return to Georgian politics.

"This is a time-out and I will be back when there are the proper conditions," she said.

Zurabishvili, then France's ambassador to Georgia, was hired as the country's foreign minister shortly after Saakashvili came to power following the Rose Revolution in 2003.

She was foreign minister from March 2004 until her dismissal in October 2005, after which she joined the opposition and became one of Saakashvili's strongest critics.

Saakashvili was hailed as the leading democratic reformer in the former Soviet Union after the revolution but in recent years the pro-Western president has come under fire for his record on democracy, accused by the opposition of growing authoritarianism.

© 2010 AFP

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