Mikhail Saakashvili says a weekend election that has given him another term as president has made Georgia a beacon of democracy. His critics, however, maintain Saturday’s vote was rigged, and opposition parties are planning a protest today in Tblisi. Saakashvili has shrugged off the claims: “I think some of the criticism we have got lately was a little bit hasty. I think it was more or less based on a lack of information and clichés. I think many things became much clearer later.
“But certainly this election has proven once more Georgia’s democratic credentials. It has proven that Georgia is really indeed a beacon of democracy for this part of the world.”
International observers say that while overall democratic standards were met, an array of problems need to be addressed.
Tina Khidasheli, an opposition leader, said:
“I already have a hundred thousand votes falsified, documented, falsified, with stamps, signatures and with numbers changed on the second level. I promise to the whole world that wants to make Saakashvili a winner that this case will not work in this situation today in Georgia, and there will be a second round in Georgia.”
Saakashvili is promising to reach out to the opposition to have what he calls a more “inclusive government”. He also says he wants to improve relations with Russia.