January 8th, 2008 05:40 EST
Georgia's election authorities have received about 450 complaints over violations
Georgia's election authorities have received about 450 complaints over violations at 40 polling stations during January 5 presidential elections, the local media said on Monday.
Georgia held snap presidential elections on Saturday, which was called by former president Mikheil Saakashvili in November 2007 after opposition protests in the country were crushed by police.
The media cited Levan Tarkhnishvili, head of the Georgian Central Election Commission (CEC), as saying that some observers witnessed serious violations at dozens of polling stations, including attempts to put unregistered ballots in voting boxes.
According to latest results available on Georgia's CEC web site, with 85% of the ballots counted, Saakashvili maintains the lead with 51.94% of the vote, which gives him enough room to win the election in the first round.
His top rival, united opposition candidate Levan Gachechiladze is trailing far behind with 25.19%, followed by businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili with 6.66%, Labor Party leader Shalva Natelashvili with 6.33%, New Rightist leader David Gamkrelidze with 3.91%, and others gaining less than 1%.
The candidate who gains 50% plus one vote wins the election. If none of the candidates gains the necessary amount, the election commission will set the date for a runoff, to be held in two weeks.
In the second round, voters cast ballots for the two candidates who gained more than others in the first round. The candidate who wins not less than 20% of the total vote is considered elected.
The CEC is expected to complete the preliminary vote count at 3,512 polling stations by late Monday.
Meanwhile, Saakashvili said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday that the election clearly showed Georgia was on the road to becoming a European democracy, despite opposition claims that the vote was fraudulent.
"...I think we are on the right track and this election has just proven that," the AP quoted him as saying.
During the last presidential election in Georgia on January 4, 2004, the U.S.-educated Saakashvili, 40, won a landslide victory with 94% of the vote.