Georgia's Saakashvili wins vote: elections chief

Georgia's Saakashvili wins vote: elections chief

( AFP ) - With more than two thirds of votes counted in Georgia's snap presidential election pro-Western leader Mikheil Saakashvili remained on course for victory, an official tally showed Monday.

The Central Election Commission website showed Saakashvili had 51.71 percent of the vote with more than two thirds of total ballots counted and 2,265 of the 3,512 precincts reporting.

His nearest challenger was bitter opponent Levan Gachechiladze, with 25.38 percent, according to the incomplete official count.

Earlier Monday the election commission's chairman, Levan Tarkhnishvili, announced a Saakashvili victory.

However, he said he was basing this on unofficial results, including figures reported by telephone and therefore having no legal force.

Saakashvili, who called Saturday's election in the wake of violent unrest in November, needed to cross a 50-percent barrier to win in a single round.

He told BBC World television on Sunday that ex-Soviet Georgia had passed a "maturity test and proved that it is a real state" and a "vibrant democracy."

There was backing for Saakashvili, a US-educated lawyer, from the main observer group, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which declared the election largely free and fair.

But the opposition immediately rejected the vote count and took to the streets of the snow-covered capital Tbilisi to protest alleged fraud.

"We don't believe their figures. We don't believe this," said Tamar Rukhadze, spokeswoman for the official runner-up Levan Gachechiladze, who officially got 27 percent.

"We think they tried very hard all day to get more than 50 percent for Saakashvili. We demand a second round," she told AFP.

The commission's announcement was highly surprising since it showed over half of results arriving within just one hour, after having trickled in for 24 hours following close of polls.

Tarkhnishvili explained this saying that his figures were based in part on reports sent to him by telephone because of delays in getting official tallies to him.

"The preliminary results announced... are not legally binding," he said.

"We will announce final, legally binding results later," he added, without specifying when.

Despite the announcement, the official election website -- previously updated on a regular basis -- continued to display results based on votes from fewer than 50 percent of precincts.

Another opposition leader, Tina Khidasheli of the Republican Party, expressed suspicion.

"I think they didn't even count those numbers," she told AFP.

Saakashvili had been hoping to restore his democratic credentials and authority when he called the snap election after violent clashes between police and anti-government protestors in November.

However, the opposition's refusal to accept the outcome threatened new instability for a country striving to shake off centuries of Russian dominance and to embrace Western-style reforms.

Gachechiladze led a rally of several thousand people in central Tbilisi to denounce what he said was ballot stuffing, stealing ballot boxes, and sending supporters to vote multiple times.

"We face terror," he told the rally. "We will defend our vote by legal means."

In contrast, the OSCE gave a mostly clean bill of health to Saturday's election.

OSCE mission head, US congressman Alcee Hastings, told journalists that "democracy took a triumphant step" and described the vote as "a valid expression of the choice of the Georgian people."

This finding was dismissed by Moscow, which is bitterly against Saakashvili's drive to remove Georgia from Russia's orbit and integrate with NATO and other Western institutions.

Hastings' comments "seem, at the least, superficial," the Russian foreign ministry said.

Despite appearing set for victory, Saakashvili has seen his authority come under the biggest challenge since he swept to power in the peaceful 2003 Rose Revolution.

Since taking power he has become an increasingly close ally of Washington. The country of just five million people already contributes troops to the war in Iraq and is set to send others to Afghanistan.

Georgia is also of growing strategic importance at the crossroads of Central Asia and Europe, as well as Russia, Iran and NATO member Turkey.

Major US-backed oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean run through the country.

Moscow has struck back at Georgia's pro-Western course with sweeping economic sanctions and support for armed rebels who control two separatist regions of Georgia -- Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Turkey increases export to Turkic-speaking countries
Turkey increases export to Turkic-speaking countries
Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan trade turnover significantly increases
Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan trade turnover significantly increases
First coronavirus death in Kyrgyzstan
First coronavirus death in Kyrgyzstan
Loading Bars
Georgia reports 195 confirmed cases of COVID-19
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale April 7
Azerbaijani oil down in price
Exports of products of Iran's Markazi Province announced
President Ilham Aliyev: After April 20, we will take steps in accordance with current situation
World Bank Group to support the anti-crisis program of Uzbekistan
President Ilham Aliyev: In event of artificial inflation of mask prices, those involved will be severely punished
Turkey’s Health Ministry opens tender to build rehabilitation center
Vice-speaker: Azerbaijan turning from importer into producer of medical supplies
President Ilham Aliyev: 600,000 workers, including private entrepreneurs, will be financed at expense of state in Azerbaijan
President Ilham Aliyev: As we demonstrate unity and solidarity, we must also show responsibility and be disciplined
Coverage of insurance payments on unemployment to be expanded in Azerbaijan
President Ilham Aliyev: There are plans to set up modern hospitals in Baku and a number of regions in near future
President Ilham Aliyev: All measures taken in Azerbaijan so far have produced desired effect
As coronavirus hits tourism, Wizz Air finds new role
South Korea helps Uzbekistan to develop innovative business
President Ilham Aliyev: Infrastructure available in Azerbaijan allows us opportunity to succeed in organizing necessary production in short time
Kazakhstan's ore exploring ventures opens tender for feasibility study development
President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijan will no longer depend on mask imports even after fight against coronavirus is completed
Iranian currency rates for April 7
Gold price up in Azerbaijan on April 7
No change in British PM Johnson's condition
Azerbaijani currency rates for April 7
Volume of loaded, unloaded cargo in Shahid Bahonar port of Iran increases
Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise to 99,225, deaths to 1,607
Be responsible, do not violate discipline and rules, take care of yourself, your children, relatives, so that we can overcome this difficult situation with small losses! - Appeal of President Ilham Aliyev to Azerbaijani people
Armenia violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan 23 times
Volume of loaded, unloaded cargo in Bushehr port of Iran increases
Uzbekistan reveals its coronavirus-related data for April 7
What happens to oil prices if new OPEC+ deal can’t be agreed?
Covid-19 makes new OPEC+ agreement more likely
Iran must simplify access to loans for workers- Tehran Retirement Center
Iran and India trade continues despite coronavirus spread - Chamber of Commerce
SOFAZ's budgetary expenses predicted at level approved in annual budget
Libya reports 1st COVID-19 recovery case
Japan set to announce coronavirus emergency
S. Korea to send $2 m worth of medical equipment to Iran
Number of COVID-2019 cases across globe up by over 77,000 in past day
Second potential COVID-19 vaccine in U.S. starts safety test
5.0-magnitude quake hits 79km WNW of Sinabang, Indonesia
WHO's Tedros sends best wishes to UK's Johnson suffering COVID-19
U.S. COVID-19 deaths top 10,000: Johns Hopkins University
UK PM Johnson moved to intensive care as COVID-19 symptoms worsen
Saudi capital, cities get 24-hour curfew, Kuwait isolates two districts over coronavirus
Turkey's COVID-19 cases surge past 30,000
Heydar Aliyev Center supports Germany amid COVID-19 outbreak (VIDEO)
Coronavirus pandemic is historical test for EU, Merkel says
Over 50% of requests for obtaining permission to leave home rejected in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan discloses amount allocated to reduce unemployment
Azerbaijani Operational Headquarters: Severe measures to be taken towards quarantine regime violators
Georgian citizens over 60 to get pneumococcal vaccine
Rules for movement of children, adolescents during quarantine period in Azerbaijan disclosed
Georgian Greenhouse Corporation continues to produce vegetables at maintenance level
Azerbaijan launches website providing access to digital services during quarantine regime
Minister: Restoration of Georgia's tourism sector to depend on international development
Cabinet of Ministers: Azerbaijan not to allow unjustified dismissal from work during special quarantine regime
President Ilham Aliyev issues Decree to pardon group of convicts aged over 65
Azerbaijan's Tax Ministry registers SOCAR-STP joint venture
Georgia begins business audits to check implementation of medical recommendations
Kazakhstan ready to export flour to Central Asian neighbors under certain conditions
Licenses in Iran's Markazi Province announced
Nar starts to render mobile service for customers under preventive measures against coronavirus outbreak
Energy ministry: Azerbaijan takes several measures in renewable energy in 2020
Azerbaijani ATMs not to charge interests from social payments
Thousands of Pakistanis in UAE seek to return home amid coronavirus outbreak
Azerbaijani persimmon producers talk changes in exports
English coronavirus death toll rises 403 to 4,897
Azerbaijani insurers talk their activities during special quarantine regime
Thailand extends ban on incoming passenger flights
Azerbaijan’s Regional Development Public Association creating web portal for those who need help and want to render it
Turkmengaz state concern opens tender for purchase of material, technical resources
MFA: Int’l community condemns, rejects so-called "elections" in occupied Karabakh
EDB talks possible negative coronavirus, lower oil prices consequences on Kazakhstan's economy
Khomein petrochemical plant to be commissioned in Iran
Azerbaijan's Central Bank attracts funds
Georgian government continues to return its citizens from Europe due to coronavirus
Uzbekistan maintains sufficient stock of vegetables
Iran may reduce chicken export duties
Georgian ministry reports on implementation of infrastructure projects
Azerbaijan's largest glass factory reveals export volumes
US thanks Turkmenistan for helping send its citizens back home
Azerbaijani analysts: Price of Brent oil may rise
EBRD provides financial assistance to Georgia in fight against coronavirus
No need for mandatory sale of assets to fulfill SOFAZ’s obligations
Uzbekistan continues to provide rail freight transportation
Kazakh national currency up agains US dollar
Iranian Ministry of Health: Coronavirus more dangerous than swine flu
Turkey’s VakifBank postpones payables due to coronavirus
SOFAZ's budgetary expenses predicted at level approved in annual budget
Azerbaijan’s Garadagh glass factory reveals production volumes
National Iranian Oil Company to put products on sale
Turkmenistan sells urea to UAE, gasoline to Afghanistan
Azerbaijan confirms 57 more coronavirus cases, 12 recover
Azerbaijani State Oil Fund’s current investment portfolio consists of more reliable instruments
Exports of products through Iran's Chahar-Mahal and Bakhtiari Province announced
Germany draws up plans to end lockdown after April 19
Notary services resume in Georgia
Azerbaijan’s hazelnut processing factory talks production volumes
Maximal recommended deposits rates reconsidered in Kazakhstan
Azerbaijan’s Association of Insurers talks about exemption of insurers from deductions to Central Bank
All news