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US Expresses Concern About Georgian Elections - 2003-11-05

The United States has taken its concerns about the elections in Georgia directly to President Eduard Shevardnadze. The slow pace of ballot-counting from the parliamentary voting Sunday has added to public doubts about the election process.

The United States has already complained that inaccuracies in registration lists may have disenfranchised a large number of voters. And the U.S. ambassador in Tbilisi, Richard Miles, met with Mr. Shevardnadze Wednesday to voice concern about the vote-counting process.

State Department spokesman Adam Ereli says Mr. Miles told the Georgian leader that a "timely, transparent and accurate" tabulation of the vote is essential to restoring voter confidence, and that the delay in reporting the count by the country's Central Election Commission raises serious concerns in this regard:

"We urged President Shevardnadze to insure the integrity of the election and thereby bolster the partnership between the two nations," he said.

The spokesman said the U.S. envoy pressed for the election commission to correct election-day errors by throwing out "egregious" cases of fraud. He said Mr. Shevardnadze "understands the seriousness" of U.S. concerns and would try to be responsive.