| 29 May 2024, Wednesday |

Georgia’s runoff polls for local bodies kick off

Determining which party will control the country’s five major cities, including the capital Tbilisi, through second-round election runoffs, began today, Saturday, in Georgia.
The ruling Georgian Dream party and the opposition United National Movement are competing in the polls, which started at 8 a.m. local time (0400GMT) and will close at 8 p.m. (1600GMT), with preliminary results to be announced later in the night.
On Oct. 2, Georgia held its first round of municipal elections to elect 64 mayors and 2,068 city council members.
No mayoral candidate in the country’s five largest cities, including Tbilisi, and a total of 20 municipalities could pass the 50% threshold.
According to official results announced by the Georgian Central Election Commission, the ruling party received 46.74% of the vote in the first round.
The main opposition leader and former President Mikheil Saakashvili’s opposition United National Movement took second place with 30.67% of the vote.
Saakashvili, who served as the president in 2004-2013, was arrested and imprisoned on Oct. 1, days after he secretly returned from exile in Ukraine, prompting tens of thousands of people to rally in Tbilisi to demand his release.
He has been on a hunger strike for nearly four weeks to protest what he calls “politically motivated prosecution.”
Doctors have expressed concern over the risk of irreversible damage to his health.