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Georgia Elections Marred by Corruption Allegations

January 11, 2008 06:33 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
About 200 people protested the re-election of President Mikhail Saakashvili outside the Republic of Georgia’s main television station. Ballot rigging is the latest accusation leveled at a president who declared a state of emergency to quell protests in November.

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President Mikhail Saakashvili was returned to office, but opponents and Russian officials accuse him of fixing the election results.

Saakashvili got just over 52 percent of the vote, while opposition party leader Levan Gachechiladze won about 25 percent. By winning more than half of the ballots, the president avoided a second-round runoff.

The vote rigging charges follow a year fraught with accusations regarding a leadership that the opposition depicts as increasingly authoritarian. Saakashvili scheduled the January 2008 elections in reaction to mass protests in November 2007.

The demonstrations attracted as many as 100,000 people. Tear gas and rubber bullets were used to quell the rioting, and the president declared a state of emergency.

Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaidei described the demonstrations as “an attempt at a coup.”

French Ambassador to Georgia Eric Fournier said, “The EU urges all political forces to respect the election results and to engage constructively and democratically in order to ensure that Georgia continues moving forward.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry, however, has branded the election as “neither free nor fair.”

Saakashvili has been a friend to the United States and the West since he took power in the Rose Revolution of 2003, and his presidency has see Russian influence in Georgia diminish.

Russia and Georgia have had a troubled a relationship since the Soviet Union began to break up at the end of the 1990s. The relationship soured considerably when Saakashvili replaced the pro-Russian President Eduard Shevardnadze in 2003.

Headline Links: Opposition cries corruption

Background Information: A distrustful nation

Corruption charges and the state of emergency
Russia’s relationship with Georgia

Opinion & Analysis: The situation in Georgia

‘Georgia’s Way Back’
‘Saakashvili’s Popularity Not High’
‘Georgia—Democracy on the Cheap’

Reference Material: Georgia, Saakashvili and Georgian-Russian conflict

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