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Georgia: Shevardnadze In Local Polls Setback

Tbilisi, 3 June 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The weekend's local elections in Georgia show voters handing a setback to supporters of President Eduard Shevardnadze. Preliminary figures from the capital Tbilisi show that no party that publicly supported Shevardnadze won the required minimum of 4 percent needed to secure city council seats. The National Movement-Democratic Forum and the Labor Party, which campaigned on anti-Shevardnadze platforms, each received 25 percent of the votes in the capital.

There were some reports of irregularities and voting was delayed in the city of Rustavi and in Zugdidi and Khashuri.

The Central Election Commission said about 41 percent of eligible voters nationwide cast ballots in the poll, which comes ahead of parliamentary elections due next year.

Election observers from a monitoring group called the "Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe" said they were "disappointed" that Georgia's democratic process has so far failed to match the aspirations of the country's people.