Georgia’s opposition refuses to recognise election results

Georgia faces political crisis after the opposition refused to recognise the results of parliamentary elections, held on Saturday, news wires reported. According to the Central Election Commission, the ruling Georgian Dream party was well out in front with 48.1%t after the votes at nearly all of the polling stations were counted. The largest opposition party, the United National Movement, was in second place on 27.1%.

The head of the opposition Georgian Labour Party Shalva Natelashvili said in Tbilisi, that he would not recognize the election result and called for fresh elections. Before the vote, several opposition parties had formed an alliance to prevent another government under Georgian Dream. The party won the two previous elections, in 2012 and 2016.

According to the Georgian media, opposition speakers spoke of fraud in the election. The opposition's distrust was also heightened because the first official results were not available for a long time during the night. In the afternoon on Sunday there were protests by the opposition as hundreds of people gathered in front of parliament in the capital. The police secured the building. The head of the ruling party, multibillionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, said shortly after polling stations closed that his party had "won the elections for the third time in a row."

In contrast, ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, who is wanted in his home country, spoke from exile in Ukraine of a triumph for the opposition, adding that opposition parties should "now form a government of national unity ... or we will lose the country." Saakashvili said he has no political ambitions of his own: "I'm not interested in a single office, including the office of prime minister of Georgia." Ivanishvili and Saakashvili have for decades dominated politics in the country, which is aspiring to join the EU and NATO.

The international election observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) saw no serious violations. However, there is still "a lot to do to create a solid basis for democratic elections," an OSCE statement said.

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