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OSCE Says Georgia's Elections Show Commitment To Democracy

Tbilisi, 5 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) today said that Georgia's presidential election was an improvement on previous votes and showed that the country's new leadership is committed to democracy.

OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Bruce George said while the election was not perfect, it was very "positive."

Preliminary results of yesterday's elections are still coming in, but supporters of Mikheil Saakashvili are already celebrating victory. Georgia's Central Election Commission says that with 14 percent of ballots counted, Saakashvili has over 96 percent of the vote.

Saakashvili, who led the peaceful protest campaign that toppled President Eduard Shevardnadze in November, said Georgia is on the brink of a new, positive era.

"I am very excited. I have a heavy burden on my shoulders now. But if we stand together, Georgia will be saved, Georgia will flourish, Georgia will survive. We all are proud of our country, and we will be 10 times more proud," he said.

Saakashvili says his priorities as president will be wiping out corruption, saving the economy, bringing separatist regions back under control, embracing Europe and the United States, and mending ties with Russia.