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Georgia: Shevardnadze Holds Huge Lead In Presidential Poll

Tbilisi, 10 April 2000 (RFE/RL) - Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze appears well on his way to winning a second five-year term. With 81 percent of the vote counted, Shevardnadze has 82.5 percent of the vote. His closest challenger, ex-Communist leader Dzhumber Patiashvili has 17 percent. Central Election Commission chief Dzumber Lominadze said Shevardnadze has won even though the counting of returns is not likely to be completed until later this week.

Shevardnadze first gained international attention as Soviet foreign minister under Mikhail Gorbachev. He has promised to tackle the country's economic problems during his second term. Shevardnadze has been criticized for failing to revive the economy and address widespread unemployment and poverty.