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Vote Counting Underway, as Opposition Hopes for Run-Off

The Central Election Commission (CEC) began posting on its website vote tallies from polling stations in the early hours of January 6.

Vote tallies from only 55 precincts out of a total of 3,512 polling stations were posted as of 5:30am on Sunday. CEC Chairman Levan Tarkhnishvili said during a press conference after midnight that the commission planned to announce the first early election results at 9am on January 6.

Meanwhile, the nine-party opposition coalition has claimed that its candidate, Levan Gachechiladze, had won the election “in many districts” – including most districts in Tbilisi (except Mtatsminda), and Batumi. Speaking at a news conference convened at about 4am on Sunday, Tina Khidasheli of the Republican Party, part of the nine-party coalition, said that the data used to determine this contention came from copies of vote tallies received from the bloc’s representatives at the polling stations.

Based on “documented materials,” the bloc said a run-off was inevitable. “We are definitely in the second round,” Salome Zourabichvili, leader of the Georgian Way Party, said at the same press conference, “and the authorities can not deny it.”

Khidasheli has alleged that “numerous violations” had taken place after polling stations closed at 8pm on January 5 and attempts were underway to manipulate the results.

The bloc has already called on supporters to rally at 2pm on January 6 at Rike, an open area in downtown Tbilisi, in an attempt to, what they called, “protect votes.” The International Election Observation Mission (OSCE/ODIHR, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe and European Parliament) will publish its preliminary findings on the election at 3pm local time on January 6.

Meanwhile, incumbent candidate Mikheil Saakashvili said after midnight that the January 5 polls were the most democratic ever held in Georgia. He was speaking in a Tbilisi concert hall to cheering supporters, who, based on exit poll results, were celebrating his victory. The exit polls, commissioned by four Georgian television stations, were, however, rejected by the opposition, who described them as “falsified.”


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