Georgian opposition demonstrate for new ballot

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Georgian opposition demonstrate for new ballot

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In Georgia, tens of thousands of opposition supporters have been voicing their anger over official confirmation that President Mikhail Saakashvili has been re-elected.

The Central Election Commission put him on 53 and a half per cent of the vote, more than twice the share accorded to Levan Gachechiladze, the leading opposition candidate.

The opposition are adamant the vote was rigged.

They are taking little notice of the EU’s Javier Solana, who called the vote “truly competitive”, or the election observers, who said the ballot was competitive and broadly fair.

Leading opponent Salome Zurabishvili said: “We are asking for what is due, which is the second round of these elections. We have counted, we have protested the frauds. We have to get a second round.”

Despite the strength of feeling which has been simmering since anti-Saakashvili demonstrations in November sparked the election, these protests were peaceful.

Saakashvili’s share of the vote is a shadow of the landslide support he won when he originally came to power in 2004.

The collapse is perhaps a measure of how little his economic reforms have filtered through to ordinary voters.

He maintains he has a mandate to unite the country, and to eliminate poverty