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Georgia's Election: Article Roundup

Today’s Zaman 1: “Saakaashvili won around 52 percent of the vote, with most of the counting complete, double that of 43-year-old wine producer Levan Gachechiladze, whose poll hovered between 25 and 27 percent, the central election commission said. the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, backed the vote. 'I should like to congratulate the Georgian people on the peaceful conduct of a truly competitive presidential elections on Jan. 5,' he said in a statement.'”

EUobserver – “Georgia president Mikhail Saakashvili was re-elected Sunday (6 January) in a move set to keep the country on its pro-EU and NATO course. 'Reports from mass media, NGOs and opposition representatives have been coming in on numerous violations of election laws by the authorities,' the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement. 'Assessments by western observers [the OSCE]...appear superficial.’”

New York Times – “Georgia is also valuable to Washington because it is an ally in the Iraq war. With 2,000 troops in Iraq, it is the third-largest contributor of troops there, after the United States and Britain.”

Today’s Zaman 2 – "In these recent elections the Georgian people also endorsed Georgia’s membership in NATO with a 71 percent vote in favor… In conclusion, the Georgian people voted for stability and integration with the West… the recent elections in Georgia mark a new era where the Georgian political system will move from a Soviet system, in which the president enjoys broad discretion, toward a Western system in which the parliament assumes a greater role."

Financial Times - "Opposition leaders condemned the poll as rigged. Their criticisms were echoed by Russia, which declared the vote was 'hardly free and fair', with the foreign ministry saying the election was marred by 'the widespread use of administrative resources, open pressure on opposition candidates and tough restrictions to their access to financial and media resources.'"

Personal reaction: yay to Georgia, and boo to Russia.  I am particularly happy about the country’s strong support for joining NATO – not necessarily because I think Georgia should be admitted to NATO, but rather because such a strong vote in favor of NATO is a clear indication of the pro-western sentiments of Georgia’s populace.   Voting for a candidate who is pro-West is one thing, but voting to join the pillar of the western alliance leaves no room for doubt about Georgia’s western orientation

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John in Michigan, USA on :

Russians complaining about a rigged poll -- that's funny. Was the complaint that the candidates failed to glow in the dark?

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