AKHLAKALAK–TBILISI (A-Info–RFE/RL)–Local and regional government board elections were held across Georgia Sunday–with voters choosing leaders for village and city governmen’s.
Per Georgian law these boards will meet within a week and appoint presidents for each local board. The Georgian President will appoint one of those president into the regional executive board.
One of the most heated elections was in the mainly Armenian-populated city of Akhalkalak–where 50 candidates were vying for seven seats on the regional board.
Serious clashes took place on election day between rival factions and in one of the precincts–voting was halted for two hours–until tensions were quelled. In one area–a city council candidate was forced to confiscate the official seal from the council chairman’s office. Following a brief interruption the vote continued in that region.
In Akhalkalak a faction led by Artush Hamparian won the elections. Hamparian is rumored to be a candidate for appointment on the regional executive. In the villages surrounding Akhalkalak–current Georgian parliament member Hamlet Movsesian and Akhalkalak regional education council Okro Okroyan.
In the nearby region of Ninodzminda–the elections proceeded smoothly. There current regional executive chairman Raffik Arzoumanian won the elections–while Sevak Yeran’syan–the adviser to parliament member Henzel Mkoyan also registered a victory.
The weekend’s local elections in Georgia show voters handing a setback to supporters of President Eduard Shevardnadze–reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
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.