JAVAKHK (Yerkir)–An unprecedented number of voters in Georgia’s predominantly Armenian-populated region of Javakhk participated in Sundays presidential elections. In Akhalkalak–27,598 voters (87 percent of registered voters) turned out; in Ninotsminda–of the 20,092 voters registered–18,303 voted; and in Tsalka–13,608 cast their vote.
Georgian opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili garnered the majority of the votes–in all three districts: in Akhalkalak–approximately 90%; Ninotsminda–95 percent; and in Tsalka–85 percent.
The number of registered voters in Akhalkalak grew to 30,282 from the 19,607 registered there for the November 2 parliamentary elections that put then-President Eduard Shevardnadze’s For a New Georgia party in first place. Amid widespread voting irregularities in the polls–Shevardnadze was forced to resign after three weeks of protests led by the opposition.
Alongside the January 4 presidential elections–a new round of voting was held in various districts and regions to elect representatives to parliament. Due to various reasons–the central election commission had voided the first round results in these areas.
In Akhalkalak–Hamlet Movsisyan of the Burjanadze-Democrats picked up the victory in the re-vote that took place in 12 regions–beating Hamlet Shahbekyan who represented the previous administration. With 3,668 votes–Movsisyan will represent the region in parliament.
On November 2–Shahbekyan–in fact–beat out Movsisyan. But because not enough voters participated–the results were not validated–requiring a fresh round of voting.