TBILISI, Georgia, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- President Mikheil Saakashvili conceded Georgia's elections to rival Bidzina Ivanishvili during a live broadcast on Georgian television Tuesday.
Saakashvili said the Georgian Dream coalition of his main challenger won the elections on Monday, the BBC reported.
The reclusive billionaire's apparent victory represents the first democratic transfer of power in Georgia since it left the Soviet Union, observers said.
Even without a popular majority, Saakashvili's party may still claim more than half of the 150 seats in Parliament, The New York Times reported. Under Georgia's election rules, 73 seats go to individual candidates receiving the most votes. A party with at least 76 parliamentary seats will have a chance to elect a prime minister.
Opposition media claimed special forces personnel forcibly removed ballots from several polling stations in central Georgia's Khashursky district, RIA Novosti said. The reports later were confirmed by Transparency International Georgia, which monitors political corruption.
Monday's vote was particularly important because of a 2010 law that transfers the majority of the president's executive powers to the prime minister, RIA Novosti said. The law takes effect in 2013, when Saakashvili's second term ends. The winner of Monday's election can appoint the prime minister.
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