Early Official Results Delayed

Central Election Commission (CEC) will start to post vote tallies from about 100 polling stations on its website from about 4am on Sunday, CEC Chairman, Levan Tarkhnishvili, said at a news conference held at 2:30am.

He said that delay of announcing first early official results was triggered by several factors, and named "heavy weather conditions and snow" among them. He also said that counting of votes was a burdensome work, because along with presidential elections, two separate plebiscites were also held. Tarkhnishvili also said that composition of precinct election commissions was yet another reason of delay.

"You know that along with non-partisan precinct election commissions' members there are members who are appointed by the political parties, which often triggers harsh debates, which in turn delays decision-making process. But this is also part of democracy," he added.

Tarkhnishvili said that vote tallies from only up to 100 polling stations were available currently. "We need some time to analyze these data and we think that we will able to post this information on the website after about an hour," Tarkhnishvili said.

MP Kakha Kukava of the Conservative Party, part of the nine-party opposition coalition which backs Levan Gachechiladze's presidential bid, however, challenged Tarkhnishvili's arguments. MP Kukava who was present at the news conference jumped in and asked the CEC Chairman to present copies of vote tallies received, as claimed by Tarkhnishvili, from about 100 polling stations.

"This is not a venue for making political statements; this is a press conference..." Tarkhnishvili responded. MP Kukava, however, interrupted the CEC chairman, by claiming that there was a suspicion that in fact not a single vote tally was yet received by the CEC from the precinct election commissions.

Currently MP Kukava is in the CEC. He told reporters that he would wait for copies of those vote tallies, which as claimed by the CEC, have already been received via fax from about 100 polling stations. Later, after the press conference MP Kukava said that he has seen copies, but added that the authorities tried to manipulate election results, especially in the capital Tbilisi.

Prior to this verbal sparring between the opposition lawmaker and the CEC chairman, the latter said that the CEC planned to announce very early official results at a news conference at 9am on Sunday.

"Meanwhile we will be posting vote tallies available for us on the website [www.cec.gov.ge]," Tarkhnishvili said.

He also said that there were "some problematic precincts" but even if results would be canceled on those polling stations, "that will not affect on overall election results."

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