TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Georgians are voting for a president to succeed Mikhail Saakashvili, who during nearly a decade in power has turned this former Soviet republic into a fledgling democracy and one of the staunchest allies of the United States.
For Saakashvili, it is a bitter departure. The vote is expected to cement the control of his rival, billionaire Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, whose coalition routed Saakashvili's party in a parliamentary election a year ago.
Ivanishvili's chosen candidate, Georgi Margvelashvili, a former university rector, is expected to win Sunday's election. But much uncertainty remains.
Ivanishvili has promised to step down next month and nominate a new prime minister, who under Georgia's new parliamentary system will acquire many of the powers previously held by the president.
What Saakashvili will do next is unclear.