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Exit Polls: Georgia PM Ally Set to Win Presidential Vote

Exit polls from Georgia's presidential election indicate an ally of Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is likely to win a first round victory.

The polls say Giorgi Margvelashvili, from Mr. Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition, might receive 67 percent of Sunday's vote.

Exit polls give just 20 percent to his closest rival, former speaker of parliament David Bakradze, of outgoing President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement party.

Mr. Ivanishvili commended the Georgian people for the election conducted in a calm and open political environment in full compliance with international standards, which he said is "another important step in Georgia's continuing European integration."



The prime minister's coalition beat Mr. Saakashvili's party in parliamentary elections a year ago. The prime minister said he will step down next month and nominate a new prime minister, who under Georgia's new parliamentary system will assume most of the powers previously held by the president.

Mr. Saakashvili has been Georgia's president for 10 years. The constitution barred him 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.

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