Georgia holds parliamentary polls, opposition warns of rebellion

May 21st, 2008 - 9:13 pm ICT by admin  

RIA Novosti
Tbilisi, May 21 (RIA Novosti) Georgia went to polls Wednesday to elect a new parliament with the opposition threatening a “people’s rebellion” if they found elections were being rigged. Nine political parties and three coalitions are running in the polls, which are set to be monitored by a combined group of some 5,000 international and local observers.

Some 3.5 million Georgians are eligible to take part in the elections and half of the seats in parliament will be filled by voting for parties and the other half via voting for individual candidates.

However, voting in the in the country’s two breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia will not be held following the recent tensions with Russia.

Pro-Western Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s ruling United National Movement, which holds a two-thirds majority in the country’s 150-seat parliament, is widely expected to win the vote.

Main opposition group the United Opposition-National Council-Rights led by Levan Gachechiladze, who was Saakashvili’s main rival in the disputed presidential elections in January, has called on its supporters to gather after the polls are completed to hear “the real election results” amid fears of large scale disturbances.

The group has been accusing Saakashvili of corruption, and had organised anti-Saakashvili street protests late last year that shook the capital Tbilisi.

This is the seventh time Georgia is holding general elections since it proclaimed independence in 1991. The country last held parliamentary polls in March 2004.

Georgia’s NATO bid has also been made conditional on a free and fair parliamentary election in the country.

Another reason for NATO’s decision not to grant Georgia a road map for membership was the “frozen conflicts” in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi have escalated in the recent past since Russia’s former president Vladimir Putin called for closer ties between Moscow and the two breakaway republics in mid-April.

Gachechiladze has said he favours dialogue rather than confrontation with Russia over the issue of the breakaway republics.
RIA Novosti

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