Georgian Dream 'Rigging Election Results'

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By Umberto Bacchi | October 4, 2012 3:14 AM EST

Bidzina Ivanishvili

As the first democratic transfer of power in the post-Soviet history was about to be successfully concluded amid praises from the West, Georgia reportedly fell back in to old habits of election manipulation.

Activists of the winning coalition Georgian Dream are pressurising and occupying the vote counting stations of 11 constituencies provisionally won by the former ruling party to forcibly demand a recount, international observers reported.

"The members of the District Electoral Committees (DEC) are subject to harassment, psychological pressure and intimidation to force the members of the commission to approve the appeals of the opposition activists," said a report from European Democrat Students (EDS) observation mission.

"These actions are grossly affecting the positive assessment of the elections by the international community. We see such pressure unacceptable and it causes a serious concern to us whether the transition of power will be peaceful."

The allegations were confirmed by the Subcommittee on Security and Defence of the European Parliament.

Georgian MP Giorgi Kandelaki told IBTimes UK that supporters of the coalition led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili are surrounding an increasing number of DECs in an effort to reverse the elections' results and obtain a larger majority than that already achieved.

According to Kandelaki Georgian Dream is aiming to get 100 of the 150 parliament seats, to have the majority necessary to make constitutional changes.

"These were the best elections in Georgia history," Kandelaki said praising President Mikhail Saakashvili's democratic decision to recognise Ivanishvili's victory and power to form the new government.

"Unfortunately, instead of forming the new cabinet, Ivanashvili chose to push in a very nasty way, intimidating District Electoral Committees' members," Kandelaki said.

"This is not what a democratic government should be doing in the first day of victory. It is a terrible news for Georgian democracy."

According to the latest results, Ivanishvili's coalition was ahead  with 55 per cent of the votes in the party list vote that accounts for 77 seats in the parliament and was also ahead in the first-past-the-post vote for the remaining 73 seats.

Yesterday Georgian president Saakashvili admitted his party had been defeated and spoke out for a peaceful democratic power transition.

"According to preliminary results, it is clear that Georgian Dream obtained a majority in this election."

"This means that the parliamentary majority should set up a new government, and as president, in accordance with the constitution, I will do everything to make their work comfortable, so that the parliament can choose a chairman of the parliament as well as set up a new government," Saakashvili said.

"Democracy works and the Georgian people take the decision and this is what we deeply respect," he added.

Until today international observers said that the election process had "shown a healthy respect for fundamental freedoms" and that the final results were to "reflect the choice of the voters.

The US government described the elections as "the achievement of another milestone in Georgia's democratic development," adding that Georgian citizens had "set a regional and global example by conducting a competitive campaign."

The White House also asked Saakashvili and Ivanishvili "to work together in a spirit of national unity to ensure continued progress on the advancement of democracy and economic development."

However, shortly after the first results came out, Ivanishvili called for Saakashvili to resign from the Presidential post that he is to hold until presidential elections in 2013.

"The only right thing for him to do now is to take his pen and resign. This would be good for himself and for his future," he said.

As the presidential mandate expires next year, a constitutional reform providing the parliament and the prime minister elected this week with greater powers than that currently hold by the president, comes into force.

Ivanishvili made his fortune in Russia in the 1990s with stakes in metals, banking and then property.

He lived a secretive life in his huge villa on the hills overlooking Tbilisi until last year when he decided to enter politics. He was later stripped of his Georgian citizenship as holder of a French passport.

During the electoral campaign Saakashvili accused Ivanishvili of being a stooge of the Kremlin. However the Tycoon denied the allegations adding that he sold all of assets in Russia.

The future Prime Minister also said he intends to temper Georgia's relations with Moscow, which have been at a historical low since a 5-day war in 2008.

The conflict erupted as President Saakashvili attempted to regain the control of the breakaway South Ossetia region, where Russia military backed the separatist forces.

A Georgian Dream spokesperson was not available for a comment.

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