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Georgians Head to Presidential Polls

  • VOA News

Georgians leave voting booths to cast their ballots during the presidential election in Tbilisi, Georgia, Oct. 27, 2013.

Georgians leave voting booths to cast their ballots during the presidential election in Tbilisi, Georgia, Oct. 27, 2013.

Georgians elect a new president Sunday as the tumultuous 10-year rule of Mikheil Saakashvili winds down.

Twenty-three candidates are running for the office.

Giorgi Margvelashvili is widely considered the front-runner and candidate of choice for current Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Saakashvili's choice to succeed him is David Bakradze, a former speaker of parliament. The third leading candidate, Nino Burjanadze, was part of the so-called Rose Revolution that brought Saakashvili to power.

Georgian officials are promising a free and fair election and three leading Georgian NGOs say there has been an 80 percent drop in election law violations compared to the 2012 parliament vote.

The constitution bars Saakashvili from running for a third term. He came to power during the popular uprising that forced President Eduard Shevardnadze to step down in 2004.

The pro-Western Saakashvili's time in office has included economic reforms and efforts to fight corruption, but also a brief war against Russia and accusations of human rights abuses.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.
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