Georgian election: opposition denies Saakashvili’s victory
The Central Election Commission in Georgia says with nearly all the votes counted in the country's presidential vote Mikhail Saakashvili has won around 53% of the ballots. Only votes from abroad are still to be taken into account.
The head of Georgia’s Central Election Commission, Levan Tarkhnishvili, said that 100% of votes in the country have been counted. What have not yet been counted are the votes in Iraq where Georgia has troops, Kosovo, where Georgian peacekeepers are stationed, and in all the Georgian embassies abroad.
According to the figures that the CEC has now, former president Mikhail Saakashvili has won 52.8% of the votes, while his main rival, United Opposition candidate, Levan Gachechiladze, has 27% of the votes. The figures still may change, but the CEC head has said that the second round of election is very unlikely.
Opposition protesters: we`ll be back!
Discrepancy in exit poll results
Opposition CEC member David Bardavelidze said all the news about Saakashvili’s victory in the election are “absolute disinformation”.
“Society is being gradually prepared for the idea that Saakashvili is the winner. But no single Central Election Commission worker has such info. Our preliminary data is quite different,” he added.
When the opposition protesters left Tbilisi’s central Rike square as it was Christmas Eve yesterday, they said that on January 8 they will gather again either in victorious rallies or in protest if Saakashvili is confirmed as the election winner.
The opposition claims more people voted for their candidate, Levan Gachechiladze, who's representing the nine-party United Opposition coalition.
Several thousand protesters took in Sunday’s rally.
“The opposition won this election, having observed all democratic procedures. We will defend our vote to the end. We will fight for our rights,” said one of the protesters.
Another one said they “are here to celebrate.”
“Saakashvili didn’t win. Gachechiladze is the winner. Anything can happen, but we will come out to fight for our votes,” she added.
Meanwhile, OSCE observers have called the election open and competitive. Nevertheless, they say a number of very serious violations have been detected and they urge the government to deal with them immediately.
Meanwhile, the counting of votes has now virtually been completed but the full official results of the election will not be known for several days.
Earlier, a Ukraine-based independent monitoring organisation, Common European Affair, said none of the presidential candidates had gained more than 50% of the vote needed for an outright victory.
Its exit poll puts opposition candidate Levan Gachechiladze first with 31%, with Mikhail Saakashvili behind with around 24% and Badri Patarkatsishvili on about 20%.
Georgian TV showed exit poll figures giving former president Mikhail Saakashvili more than 53.8% of votes. If so, it will be enough for him to remain in office. But the opposition accuses Saakashvili's ruling party of attempting to rig the vote. The figures showed that Levan Gachechiladze, the United Opposition candidate, received more than 28%, while businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili received a little over 6% of the vote.
According to official figures the turnout at the election was around 56%. The Election Commission claims the election was free and fair.
As thousands of Saakashvili's supporters celebrated, his main rival Levan Gachechiladze said the party was premature.
“According to our information today we have won in almost every part of the country. And according to the information we received from our commissions, there is a terror campaign going on during the counting process. There is a falsified exit poll, which is being broadcast on three nationwide channels,” claimed United Georgia’s opposition candidate, Levan Gachechiladze.
“I was planning my first statement today in the Georgian media to address our voters, but I was blocked by these three governmental channels, which means that the media terror has started against us,” he added.
Exit polls gave Gachechiladze over 28%, but his supporters insist that he's received far more.
“Today in Georgia we've had neither a free nor fair election. According to our results, Saakashvili's falsified the election,” said Georgy Maisashvili, a presidential candidate.
In one of the two referendums held in parallel with the presidential election, Georgians voted to hold the next parliamentary election this spring.
The rescheduling of the parliamentary election to April was one of the opposition's main demands.
And in the second referendum on whether Georgians support accession to NATO, exit polls say 61% of Georgians are in favour of the idea.