Georgia to join NATO: D-day January 5?

Georgian authorities have decided to hold a referendum simultaneously with the presidential election on January 5. Georgians will decide when they want the parliamentary election to be held and whether they want Georgia to become a member of NATO.

Meanwhile registration for the presidential candidates has closed.

The country's former President Mikhail Saakashvili has filed the necessary documents to run for the presidency along with 21 other candidates. That's far more than expected.

From the opposition ranks, the front-runner is Levan Gachechiladze, the candidate of the nine-party opposition coalition.
The world's richest Georgian, Badri Patarkatsishvili, is also in the running.
Other well known faces include David Gamkrelidze, leader of the New Rights party, and Shalva Natelashvili of the Labour party.

Along with the frontrunners, a large number of total unknowns have submitted registration documents. Most are private individuals who just fancy a shot at the presidency.

Georgia's central election commission was not expecting an eleventh-hour rush of presidential candidates. But that's exactly what happened. Wannabe leaders had until 6pm local time to submit the necessary forms.

Clearly, most have no chance of collecting enough signatures to go to the next stage. Fewer still have any chance of winning any votes in the actual election.

Each candidate has to collect 50,000 signatures before December 6 in order to appear on the ballot paper. Then the candidates will be approved.

Most of those who've registered have no chance getting past this stage and will drop out.