Georgia's presidential hopefuls submit signatures

The registration deadline for Georgia's presidential candidates has passed. Thirteen contenders have submitted the required 50,000 signatures to the Central Election Commission. Now the signatures have to be validated.

The former president Mikhail Saakashvili, who is the favourite to win the election, presented his signatures to the Central Election Committee two days ago. His team has collected 140,000 signatures, a large number considering the size of Georgia’s electorate.

Saaskashvili’s main rival, Levan Gachechiladze – the candidate from a coalition of nine opposition parties – has gathered about 70,000 signatures and is handing them in on Thursday.    

The leader of the radical opposition Labour Party, Shalva Natelashvili, and the head of the moderate opposition New Rights party, David Gamkrelidze, have also managed to collect the required number of signatures.

Irina Sarishvili from the marginal pro-Russian Hope party claims that she has collected 50,000 signatures.  

Georgian media tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili has submitted most signatures, exceeding the 50,000 minimum four times.

Three of the original 16 declared runners have failed to hand in the signatures.  Apart from the handful of notable political figures, most of the thirteen who did are relatively unknown.

The big names running are former Georgian president Saakashvili and the single candidate representing nine opposition parties Gachechiladze.

The books of signatures will be checked for irregularities before they  can be declared valid.

The final list of candidates will be released in a couple of days.