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Georgia: Early Results Show Pro-Government Bloc Leading

Tbilisi, 3 November 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Early results today from parliamentary elections in Georgia show a pro-government bloc leading, but indicate that most people are voting against candidates linked with President Eduard Shevardnadze (pictured). Shevardnadze's opponents said independent exit polls indicated they were leading and accused the government of rigging the returns. But Shevardnadze today denied there was any election fraud.

The capital, Tbilisi, was quiet early today but the opposition warned of pending demonstrations and police and Interior Ministry troops were on high alert to head off any civil unrest.

With about 20 percent of votes counted, the central election commission said that the For a New Georgia bloc, linked to Shevardnadze, had secured 28.8 percent of the vote. The nearest opposition rival, the Saakashvili-National Movement bloc, had 23.5 percent.