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OSCE Notes 'Significant Shortcomings' In Georgia Vote

Tbilisi's incumbent Mayor Gigi Ugulava leaves a voting booth in Tbilisi during elections on May 30.
The main international observer mission to Georgia's municipal polls says the May 30 election was marred by "significant shortcomings."

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's ruling National Movement party looks set to win a landslide victory in the election.

In the capital, Tbilisi, incumbent Gigi Ugulava, a Saakashvili ally, had about 54 percent, more than 20 percentage points ahead of his nearest challenger.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) observer mission said in a statement that the election was "transparent" and marked "evident progress towards meeting international standards."

But the OSCE statement added that "significant shortcomings remain to be addressed."

It noted "systemic irregularities," including several cases of ballot-box stuffing and an "uneven playing field favoring contestants from the incumbent party."

The verdict comes as a blow to Saakashvili, who had presented the election as a test of his commitment to democratic reforms and vowed they would be conducted fairly.

with agency reports