Georgia's former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili (L) and Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili wave at a rally of Georgian Dream party after the parliamentary elections in Tbilisi, Georgia, October 8, 2016. ally traditionally buffeted between Russia and the West, Georgia hopes to join the European Union and NATO one day even though that is something that Russia, its former colonial master, strongly opposes.
REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili With 99.41 percent of the votes in, data from the Central Election Commission gave the ruling Georgian Dream party 48.61 percent of the vote and the opposition United National Movement (UNM) 27.04 percent. With political stability still fragile -- the first peaceful transfer of power since the 1991 Soviet collapse only took place four years ago - the authorities were keen the election be widely seen as free and fair to avoid a return to the days when politicians tried to seize power by force.
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The pre-election atmosphere was marred by a string of violent incidents blamed by Georgian politicians on everyone from Moscow to shadowy forces bent on destabilizing the vote.
Georgia is criss-crossed by strategically important oil and gas pipelines and a fifth of its territory remains under the control of pro-Russian separatists following a short war with Russia in 2008.
Georgian Dream, which is pro-Western but also favors closer ties with Russia, declared victory shortly after polls closed on Saturday. ” Prime Minister Georgy Kvirikashvili told jubilant supporters gathered outside the party’s headquarters in Tbilisi, the capital.
In a separate attack, two men were shot and wounded last Sunday at an election rally in the town of Gori, while on voting day itself disturbances broke out in the village of Kizilajlo in south-east Georgia.
Georgian Dream, which came to power in 2012, is funded by tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, the country’s richest man, while the opposition UNM was founded by former president Mikheil Saakashvili. I believe that they will do more for people,” said Murman Sanikidze, a 37-year-old Tbilisi resident.