Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Saakashvili concedes defeat, says his party now opposition


 
One of the opposition supporters holds a national flag to celebrate what they call the victory of Georgian Dream opposition bloc in central Tbilisi, late on October 1, 2012. (AFP Photo/Andrey Smirnov)

Source: Russia Today
http://rt.com/news/georgian-parliamentary-elections-hindering-476/

Georgian President and leader of the United National Movement ruling party Mikhail Saakashvili has officially conceded the defeat in the parliamentary election on national TV. The UNM now goes into opposition to the winning Georgian Dream coalition.

The Georgian Dream coalition that has won the election will be forming the next Georgian government and it is expected that the coalition’s current leader billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili might be elected Georgia’s next prime minister. According to the laws adopted in the country recently, the prime minister will have more powers than the ruling president, making for an interesting power dynamic.

Central Elections Committee data indicates that with over 25 per cent of the votes counted so far, the opposition Georgian Dream coalition is winning with about 53.3 per cent of the popular vote, while the ruling United National Movement (UNM) has gained about 41.5 per cent. One more opposition party, the Christian-Democrat Movement, has managed to pass the necessary 5 per cent threshold.

The CEC has estimated the election’s final turnout at 61 per cent. With 3,613,851 voters officially registered in Georgia this means at least 2,204,450 people went to cast their votes.

The CEC said its website has suffered a denial-of-service attack, leading to a delay in the release of the results. “Our website was under DDoS attack, which has caused minor delays…but we were ready for such a scenario too,” said Elections Committee Chairman Zurab Kharatishvili, as quoted by Civil Georgia news website.

 
Opposition supporters celebrate what they call the victory of Georgian Dream opposition bloc in central Tbilisi, late on October 1, 2012. (AFP Photo/Vano Shlamov

Reaping what was sown

­The election campaign in Georgia was marred by a flurry of accusations from both the ruling party and the opposition, with some experts labeling the campaign “the dirtiest ever in Georgia”.

On the eve of the elections the battle for electoral minds reached its zenith after national TV channels broadcast video evidence of torture and rape in a detention facility in the capital Tbilisi – with the connivance of, or even direct orders from, the ruling party.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in several Georgian cities over the abuses in a Tbilisi prison. The minister of execution of sentences resigned as a result of the atrocities.

 
AFP Photo/Vano Smirnov

Polling day was not exempt from violations.

On Monday, Georgian media reported national security forces clashed with local residents in the town of Khashuri, a town close to the country’s capital Tbilisi. Three people were injured at a polling station when rubber bullets and teargas were fired by security forces, claimed opposition news station TV-9. Reportedly the cause for the incident was some kind of attempted illegal activities at the polling station.

An observer group Transparency International Georgia has claimed falsifications took place in Khashuri.

“Our observer present at precinct No. 46 reported that Georgian Dream had most of the ballots in a vote summary protocol, but shortly afterwards, armed persons arrived at the precinct, and kicked all the observers out of the building. A new summary protocol was made in which the United National Movement was the winner; the District Election Commission accepted this very protocol,” TI Georgia was quoted by Civil Georgia news website.

The Public Chamber of Russia and the Democratic Research Problem Fund, working in close co-operation with Georgian activists, have accused Georgia’s ruling United National Movement party of a number of gruesome violations during the elections on October 1.

“The election campaign of the UNM party was accompanied with open attempts of bribing the electorate. Speaking at the UNM congress [acting president] Mikhail Saakashvili promised mass distribution of 1000-lari [about US$1,660] certificates after the election, which according to international standards is an evident and transparent bribery of voters,” proclaims the Public Chamber’s statement issued on Tuesday.

The statement also mentions a number of other violations registered at the polling station by the Georgian observers, including already-completed ballots being brought to the stations, as well as prosecution and intimidation of opposition activists.

Overall 60,000 observers from 100 Georgian and international organizations and 15 countries were monitoring the elections in Georgia. The international observers have declared the elections conformed to international standards, despite a number of incidents at polling stations.

The OSCE mission in Georgia has acknowledged that the parliamentary election in the country was free, democratic and conformed to international standards.

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