GEORGIA POLLS: 14% OF VOTE TALLIED, SAAKASHVILI WINNING BY HUGE MARGIN

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TBILISI, JANUARY 5, 2004, RIA NOVOSTI - As of 5:00 p.m., the Central Electoral Commission of Georgia has tallied 14 percent of the vote. The preliminary results indicate a landslide victory for National Movement leader Mikhael Saakashvili. An overwhelming 96.7 percent of the ballots has been cast for him.

Teimuraz Sashiashvili, a former governor of the western Georgian province of Imereti, follows with 2.47 percent of the vote. No other presidential hopeful has managed to surpass the 1% threshold. 1.43 percent of the electors voted against all candidates.

Some 350,000 ballots from 417 polling stations across the country have been processed thus far, Electoral Commission Chairman Zurab Chiaberashvili reported at a press conference. The total number of polling stations open for voting in the January 4 election was 2,750. If this pace of work is maintained, the final election results will come out as early as the morning of January 7, Chiaberashvili said.

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