TBILISI -- Electoral officials in Georgia say preliminary results show Giorgi Margvelashvili on his way to a landslide victory in that country's presidential election.
With some 91 percent of the October 27 vote counted, the candidate of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition was at around 62 percent support.
Davit Bakradze, the candidate of the United National Movement of outgoing President Mikheil Saakashvili, had won nearly 22 percent of the votes counted.
Bakradze has conceded defeat.
The results show former parliament speaker and Rose Revolution figure Nino Burdhzanadze winning 10 percent.
The Central Election Commission said 46.6 percent of voters had cast ballots in the election.
Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, whose Georgian Dream ousted Saakashvili’s party from the government in elections around one year ago, has pledged to step down in the weeks after a new president is elected and nominate a new prime minister.
Speaking at a press conference on October 27, Kakha Kozhoridze, head of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, said that voting had gone relatively smoothly.
But he also indicated that there were some procedural violations.
"Most of the irregularities are caused by not being familiar with the election laws, rather than deliberate wrongdoing," he said. "Concerning the more important irregularities, there were problems with filing complaints. There were some cases where the authorities did not accept these complaints. There was a case at the Krtsanisi polling station where there was a physical confrontation between observers from two different monitoring organizations."
The movement formed by Ivanishvili is now on track to control, for the first time, the government and presidency after 10 years of leadership by the controversial Saakashvili, who took power after the 2003 Rose Revolution.
During his two terms in office, Saakashvili is seen as having succeded in pointing Georgia toward the West and taking important strides against some official corruption.
But, in the latter half of his presidency, he sparked opposition from many by what are seen as authoritarian tendencies and a failure to reform the justice system. He has also faced harsh criticism over Georgia’s disastrous defeat to Russian forces in a brief 2008 war.
Victorious candidate Margvelashvili, 44, is described as a little known academic with scant government experience, having served as a minister only since Ivanishvili’s movement won last year’s elections.
Saakashvili said he was disappointed in the election results, calling them “a serious setback for Georgia and for its future prospects."
He said, however, that the democratic will of voters must be recognized.
Amid speculation he could face questioning from prosecutors, Saakashvili’s also said Sunday he has no plans at the current time to leave Georgia.
Since Georgian Dream took control of the government, a series of figures linked to Saakashvili have been detained over criminal charges. It is unclear whether Saakashvili could become the target of similar allegations after he leaves the presidential office.
With reporting by AFP, AP and Reuters