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Georgia: Opposition Party Takes Lead In Parliamentary Election

Tbilisi, 6 November 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Georgian election officials say the latest figures from the 2 November parliamentary poll show a unexpected surge by the opposition Revival Union party. Officials say that with about 90 percent of ballots counted, the Revival Union was in the lead with 21.64 percent, followed by the pro-government bloc For a New Georgia with 20.62 percent, and the opposition National movement with about 19 percent.

The election officials again postponed the release of the final results despite calls to speed the vote count and charges of fraud from the opposition and the United States.

National Movement leader Mikhail Saakashvili said that the surge of the Revival Union amounted to a coup and accused President Eduard Shevardnadze and Revival Union leader Aslan Abashidze of making a deal to split votes.

"[The pro-government bloc] also want to say that not only they have the first place, but their ally [Revival Union leader Abashidze] from another region of Georgia, Adjaria, has second place in this election, and downgraded us to third place, which basically means that they are abolishing the results of the elections and the elections were just held in vain, with all the violations, the results are not recognized, which we qualify as usurpation of power and as some kind of a coup d'etat committed by the government."

Several thousand people in Tbilisi have demonstrated against the election results and against President Eduard Shevardnadze since the elections.