Saturday, January 5, 2008

Georgia's President Headed To Victory

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili looks like he is heading to victory in the country's presidential election.

Saakashvili was the leader of Georgia's "Rose Revolution" in 2003 that swept the country's corrupt and authoritarian Soviet-era leadership from power. Since then Georgia has worked hard at building strong relations with the West. They have engaged in large-scale economic reforms, built a pipeline to bring oil from the Caspian Sea to Europe and even contributed troops to the Iraq War. But opponents in Georgia have said that the countries economic reforms have left many people behind (about one quarter of Georgia lives below the poverty level), and that Saakashvili himself has become the same kind of authoritarian leader that he deposed. In November Saakashvili used riot troops to break up several days of peaceful mass protests in Georgia's capital, Tbilisi.

Exit polls give Saakashvili approximately 53% of the vote. Opposition parties have claimed that their campaigns were interfered with and that some government employees were ordered to vote for Saakashvili. The main opposition television station was also taken off the air for a period of time. Election monitors from Europe and the United States, however, have said they have seen no evidence the election was rigged.
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