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Georgia Cancels Plans for Recount

June 6, 2002

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TBILISI, Georgia (AP) _ Georgian election officials canceled plans Thursday for a nationwide recount of ballots in local elections, as opposition parties squabbled over whether it was needed.

Two opposition parties, the Labor Party and the National Movement were the top vote getters in Sunday’s balloting, winning about 25 percent of the vote each, according to preliminary results.

Activists with the Labor Party said their margin of victory should have been even higher and accused the government of President Eduard Shevardnadze of tampering with the results.

Shevardnadze, whose Union of Citizens party won less than 3 percent, dismissed claims of vote-rigging.

On Wednesday, officials announced that a recount would be held based on the allegations of fraud. But the head of the National Movement party said a recount was unnecessary.

On Thursday after meetings with opposition party representatives, the Central Election Commission canceled the recount.

Shevardnadze, a former Soviet foreign minister under Mikhail Gorbachev, won a second presidential term in 2000, but his failure to improve Georgia’s moribund economy, resolve regional conflicts, or stamp out rampant crime and corruption has diminished his authority.

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