Georgia’s incumbent President Mikhail Saakashvili has come face to face with the man who’s vowed to depose him, and who accuses him of electoral fraud.
The traditional celebrations for Orthodox Christmas forced them to meet and put aside their political battles just for a moment.
Opposition leader Levan Gachechiladze found it difficult to mask his frustration – he remains adamant that Saakashvili stole just over 50% of the ballot by rigging the vote on Saturday.
He’s demanded a second vote, but that was rebuffed by Saakashvili
“I would not exaggerate the idea of a deep split,” said the President. “The election campaign went very well. In every normal European country, if somebody gets more than 50 per cent outright, in the first round, it’s called a landslide. And so I do not see why Georgia should be otherwise. I mean, it is not a percentage in the 90s, and perhaps percentages in the 90s still happen in other countries, but if you want to be a European democracy, this is quite a success, this kind of percentage.”
The last votes are still being counted but the opposition is likely to have polled around 27%.
It threatened mass rallies in the street, but today the only marching was part of the Orthodox Christmas festivities.
The OSCE noted what it called “significant electoral challenges”. Russia insisted the vote wasn’t free or fair.