Fri, 20 Sep 2019

Georgians Go To The Polls For By-Elections

20 May 2019, 00:15 GMT+10

Voters in Georgia are going to the polls to elect a new member of parliament, five mayors, and members of eight city councils across the South Caucasus country.

The by-elections on May 19 come before crucial parliamentary elections in 2020.

The most heated race is expected in the western city of Zugdidi, where former President Mikheil Saakashvili's wife, Sandra Roelofs, is running for mayor.

Supporters of the ruling Georgian Dream party scuffled with Nika Gvaramia, the head of the Rustavi-2 channel and a Saakashvili supporter, in the city. Both sides blamed each other for provoking the incident.

Georgia's opposition United National Movement party, which Saakashvili founded, has traditionally enjoyed strong support in the country's western regions.

Saakashvili lives in the Netherlands, his wife's home country.

Georgian Dream has ruled the country since ousting Saakashvili's United National Movement from power in 2012.

Last year, Saakashvili was sentenced in absentia to three years in prison after being convicted of trying to cover up evidence about the 2006 killing of a Georgian banker.

The former president has rejected all the charges as politically motivated.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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