Saakashvili to assume office this month despite opposition
( dpa )- Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili will begin a second term in office later this month despite the opposition's rejection of his re-election as fraudulent, it was announced Friday.
Saakashvili will be inaugurated January 20 or 21, interim president Nino Burdzhanadze told reporters in Tbilisi.
The opposition has accused authorities of electoral fraud and called for a second round of voting. European monitors have backed the claims, confirming Thursday that fraud had taken place, while Georgia's election commission has annulled results in four precincts in the first official acknowledgement of voting irregularities.
The commission had on Sunday last declared Saakashvili as victor despite the count not having been concluded. Official final results are expected this coming Sunday.
Initial results gave Saakashvili 53.3 per cent of the vote. His main opponent Levan Ganchechiladze , who garnered 25 per cent of the vote, has said he will continue to fight for a second round of balloting.
Around 100,000 opposition supporters were expected to rally on Sunday in Tbilisi.
The opposition hard line has raised fears among Western observers that the situation could degenerate into a repeat of violence in November, when Saakashvili was forced to impose emergency rule before calling snap elections.
The mountainous republic's growing strategic importance, straddling oil pipelines to Europe and contributing to the war in Iraq, has made it the site in recent years of a tussle for influence between the United States and Russia.