Georgia opposition head says he won't vote

Oct. 1, 2012 at 12:18 PM
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TBILISI, Georgia, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Georgia's wealthy opposition coalition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili said he will not vote in his country's parliamentary elections Monday.

"Our authorities have changed Georgia's constitution a thousand times, tailoring it to their needs," Ivanishvili told local media. "You remember how they have crippled it. I did not use the given opportunity. I came to politics not for unfairness but to restore justice."

Ivanishvili's wife, Yekaterina Khvedelidze, did vote and did not comment on her husband's decision, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.

Ivanishvili heads the Georgian Dream coalition. The ruling United National Movement party is led by President Mikheil Saakashvili.

The government refused to restore the citizenship of Ivanishvili, who is a French citizen, the news agency said. In May 2012 the Georgian Parliament adopted a measure allowing European Union citizens born in Georgia and living in the country for the last five years to vote and run in parliamentary and presidential elections -- changes, Ivanishvili said, were made specifically for him.

Commenting on Monday's elections, Ivanishvili said, "The Georgian people, for the first time, have the opportunity to make a choice which is close to truly democratic."

However, a Georgian non-government organization reported at least 71 violations have occurred since polls opened.

Competing for the 150 parliamentary seats are 2,805 candidates from 14 political parties and two blocs, RIA Novosti said. Political parties and blocs need at least 5 percent of the vote to be seated.

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