Georgia’s ruling party wins major cities’ mayor races


TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Georgia’s national elections commission says candidates from the ruling party have won the mayoral races in the country’s five largest cities, but the opposition is claiming fraud.

Near-complete results announced Sunday by the Central Elections Commission showed the Georgian Dream party winning the vote in the capital Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, Poti and Batumi.

The Saturday runoff elections were held after no candidate won an absolute majority in the cities in the first round of nationwide municipal elections on Oct. 2.

Nika Melia, head of the main opposition party United National Movement and Tbilisi mayoral candidate, claimed that “the victories gained by the opposition in many municipalities were taken away … like they never happened.”

The elections were shadowed by the arrest on the day before the first round of former President Mikheil Saakashvili, the founder of the UNM.

Saakashvili left Georgia in 2013 and was convicted in absentia of abuse of power and sentenced to six years. He returned to Georgia from his home in Ukraine, hoping to boost the opposition in the first round of voting, but was arrested within a day

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