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Georgia presidential vote held on ‘unlevel playing field’: International observers

Election Commission officials count votes after presidential election at a polling station in Kutaisi, Georgia, October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Tornike Turabelidze

TBILISI (Reuters) – International observers said on Monday that Georgia’s presidential election had been competitive, but had been held on “an unlevel playing field” with state resources misused, private media biased, and some phoney candidates taking part.

The country’s Central Election Commission (CEC) said earlier on Monday that the election would go to a second round runoff between two former foreign ministers after no single candidate won outright in the first round of voting on Sunday.

International observers, including representatives from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said on Monday that voters had been given a genuine choice and that the election’s 25 candidates had been able to campaign freely. But they said there had also been problems.

“…There were instances of the misuse of state resources, and the involvement of senior state officials from the ruling party in campaigning was not always in line with the law,” they said in a statement.

“It became clear during the campaign that a significant number of candidates had registered so they could use public funding and free air time to support other contestants, giving those an unfair advantage.”

Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Andrew Osborn

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