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Georgia's Pro-Western Party Expects Easy Victory in Sunday's Elections

Georgia votes in parliamentary elections Sunday that the coalition that ousted President Eduard Shevardnadze late last year is expected to win easily.

President Mikhail Saakashvili's pro-Western National Movement party, in coalition with parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze's Democrats, is poised to sweep Sunday's parliamentary poll.

The opposition Labor Party and autonomous leader Aslan Abashidze's Revival party are expected to trail behind. Eighteen other parties are in the race.

Mr. Saakashvili's party scored 77 percent of the vote in the latest opinion poll, and many Western election analysts say his National Movement-Democratic Front Coalition may well be the only party to attract enough votes to win seats in the new parliament.

The 36-year-old leader of the peaceful Rose Revolution that unseated President Shevardnadze was elected president last January.

A middle-aged taxi driver, who took part in the Rose Revolution, says he was glad to have the chance to vote again and that he would be casting his ballot for the National Movement Party of Mikhail Saakashvili. The man said he is happy with the changes to date in Georgia and that he hopes even better days lie ahead.

A pensioner, and former military officer, also says the National Movement has his vote. He says President Saakashvili works hard and, if he keeps doing so, Georgians will live better.

He also said he hopes that Mr. Saakashvili will succeed in winning back Abkhazia, which declared independence in a bloody civil war as Georgia broke away from the former Soviet Union in 1991.

Another flashpoint raising separatist fears is the autonomous province of Ajaria on Georgia's Black Sea.

Its leader, Aslan Abashidze, recently signed a peace agreement with Mr. Saakashvili to allow for free and fair voting in Ajaria. But many observers worry the truce might not last well beyond Sunday's election.