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Saakashvili Claims Victory In Georgian Presidential Election

Tbilisi, 4 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Mihkeil Saakashvili, the main Georgian politician who led the movement that toppled President Eduard Shevardnadze, is claiming victory in Sunday's presidential election.

Saakashvili spoke to jubilent supporters in Tbilisi after an unofficial exit poll indicated he has won almost 86 percent of the votes.

Saakashvili claimed he has received an important mandate from the Georgian people to overcome corruption, to consolidate power, and to create an investment-friendly climate so as to bring peace and prosperity to Georgia.

No official results from the presidential election are available yet. However, Georgia's electoral commission said that the poll passed the required 50 percent threshold necessary to validate the vote.

Saakashvili and other opposition leaders organized protests that forced Shevardnadze to step down in November, following widespread allegations of rigging in parliamentary elections.