08TBILISI27, SAAKASHVILI TO WIN GEORGIA’S PRESIDENTIAL

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI27 2008-01-08 16:18 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7053
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0027/01 0081618
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 081618Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8577
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000027 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/08/2018 
TAGS: KDEM PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: SAAKASHVILI TO WIN GEORGIA'S PRESIDENTIAL 
ELECTION WITH NARROW MARGIN 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS: 
1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
 
1. (U)  Summary:  In what has been the most 
competitive presidential race in Georgia's history, 
former president Saakashvili appears set to win the 
January 5 presidential elections with 52 percent of 
the vote.  His biggest challenger, United 
Opposition's Levan Gachechiladze, is set to achieve 
25 percent of the vote.  The International 
Observation Mission assessed that Georgia's 
election was in essence consistent with most OSCE 
and Council of Europe commitments and standards. 
It noted also significant challenges which need to 
be addressed urgently, including a blurring of the 
distinction between state activities and the former 
president's campaign, unbalanced media coverage 
which tended to favor the ruling party's candidate, 
a number of substantiated cases of voter 
intimidation, and many significant procedural 
shortcomings in the vote count.  Although trusted 
NGO Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA) 
assessed the election as "valid," Gachechiladze and 
supporters pressed their way into the Central 
Election Commission (CEC) January 8 and verbally 
attacked the Central Election Commissioner for 
allegedly falsifying vote summary protocols.  The 
opposition claims that the summaries posted on the 
CEC's website do not match those obtained by their 
observers in the precincts.  The opposition has 
called for protests from January 13 until 18, 
starting the day the CEC must by law certify the 
election results.  End summary. 
 
VOTE COUNT AS OF 5:00 P.M. ON JANUARY 8 
--------------------------------------- 
 
2. (U) As of 5:00 p.m. local time on January 8, the 
CEC had counted 3070 out of more than 3400 Precinct 
Election Commissions (PECs) which showed 
Saakashvili with 52.1 percent of the vote and 
Gachechiladze with 24.98 percent of the vote.  By 
Georgian law, the CEC must certify the result by 
January 13. 
 
IN ESSENCE CONSISTENT WITH MOST INTERNATIONAL 
STANDARDS 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
--- 
 
3. (U) A report released on January 6 by the 
International Election Observation Mission (IEOM), 
which includes the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly 
(PA), Office for Democratic Institutions and Human 
Rights (ODIHR), the Parliamentary Assembly of 
Europe (PACE), and the European Parliament (EP) 
assessed that the election was in essence 
consistent with most OSCE and Council of Europe 
commitments and standards for democratic 
elections.  It noted also significant challenges 
which need to be addressed urgently, including a 
blurring of the distinction between state 
activities and the former president's campaign, 
unbalanced media coverage which tended to favor the 
ruling party's candidate, a number of substantiated 
cases of voter intimidation, and many significant 
procedural shortcomings in the vote count. 
 
4. (U) The report commended the work of the CEC, 
which it said prepared the election in an overall 
professional manner and undertook significant 
efforts to improve the voters' list, but criticized 
the CEC for acting along partisan lines.  It also 
noted positively the Government's formation of an 
Inter-Agency Task Force, set up by the Acting 
President, to address concerns.  He noted that the 
Acting President at times intervened personally in 
response to the opposition's grievances.  The 
report noted the election as the first competitive 
presidential election and that it took place in a 
highly polarized political environment which was 
not conducive to a constructive, issues-based 
campaign. 
 
GOVERNMENT CRITICS CALL THE ELECTION VALID 
------------------------------------------ 
 
5. (U) Respected local NGO GYLA's Head Giorgi 
Chkheidze said that GYLA, which fielded observers 
 
TBILISI 00000027  002 OF 002 
 
 
across the country, found widespread irregularities 
and technical problems during the election but not 
overt signs of fraud.  He said the election should 
be considered valid.  (Note:  GYLA in general is 
known to be a government critic.  End note.) 
Similarly, Ombudsman Sozar Subari, who has in the 
past been unabashedly critical of the government, 
said that while the ruling party's abuse of 
administrative resources puts the broader fairness 
of the election into question, the actual voting 
was credible.  He told the media on January 6 that 
the election was much better than Georgians are 
used to. 
 
OPPOSITION CLAIMS FRAUD, CALLS FOR PROTESTS 
------------------------------------------- 
 
6. (U) In dramatic fashion, opposition candidate 
Levan Gachecheladze and supporters pressed their 
way into the CEC early on January 8 to verbally and 
publicly attack the CEC for allegedly falsifying 
vote summary protocols.  The opposition claims that 
the protocol summaries posted on the CEC's website 
do not match those obtained by their obse
rvers in 
the precincts.  The opposition has called for 
protests from January 13 until 18. 
 
EMBASSY SEES NO SYSTEMIC CONCERNS, A FEW 
SIGNIFICANT IRREGULARITIES 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
--------------- 
 
7. (C) The Embassy fielded 20 teams throughout the 
country.  Embassy observers saw no systemic 
concerns, although observers saw one instance of 
ballot stuffing in Akhalkalaki (the ethnic Armenian 
region) and many instances of procedural violations 
including some voter intimidation and poor counting 
procedures.  Two of the Embassy teams' protocols 
appeared on the CEC website with numbers that were 
different from those received at the precinct and 
benefited Saakashvili.  Ambassador Tefft raised 
this issue with CEC Chairman Tarknishvili, who 
pledged to look immediately into it and prosecute 
anyone found to have doctored election results. 
End summary. 
TEFFT

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