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Monday, 10 April, 2000, 09:01 GMT 10:01 UK
Landslide victory for Shevardnadze
Vote counting
Counting votes: Shevardnadze gets another term
Veteran Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze has scored an overwhelming victory in the former Soviet republic's presidential election, the Central Elections Commission has said.

His main challenger - former Communist leader Dzhumber Patiashvili - conceded defeat on Sunday shortly after polling stations closed.

With just over 80% of the ballots counted, Mr Shevardnadze had secured at least 80% of the vote, with his rival on 16.5%, election officials said.

Shevardnadze
Mr Shevardnadze has run Georgia for eight years
"I couldn't win this election as long as the ruling party was my main enemy," Mr Patiashvili said.

The BBC's Rob Parsons in Tbilisi says that the margin of Eduard Shevardnadze's victory has taken even his most ardent supporters by surprise.

Official results are expected on 29 April and the inauguration ceremony is likely to be held on 30 April, the Orthodox Easter.

Mr Shevardnadze has run the country for the past eight years, but Mr Patiashvili failed to exploit popular dissatisfaction over falling living standards and endemic corruption.

Eduard Shevardnadze
1928: born
1972-1985: Georgian Party boss
1985-1991: Soviet foreign minister
1992-2000: Georgian head of state
Voting in many polling stations got off to a slow start, but the Central Election Commission reported a turnout of nearly 65% of Georgia's 3.1 million voters - enough to validate the contest.

Some analysts had warned that local officials might try to boost the voter turnout through fraud.

Mr Patiashvili had also warned the election would not be "100% democratic".

Irregularities

Georgia's Iprinda news agency reported allegations of apparent irregularities.

It said that a man in a police uniform put a pack of ballot papers in a ballot box at a polling station in the village of Vardisubani in Telavi District.

Patiashvili votes
Mr Patiashvili failed to exploit popular dissatisfaction

Mr Patiashvili's team also reported that a ballot box was taken out of the polling station, allegedly to allow 74 sick people to vote at their homes, although there had been only one formal application for that service.

The Russian news agency Itar-Tass also reported that a local official cast over 100 ballots at a polling station in the village of Chailuri, in the Sagaredzhoi district of eastern Georgia.

The BBC's correspondent reports however that it is doubtful the falsification was enough to alter the outcome.

Poverty problem

Mr Patiashvili has accused Mr Shevardnadze of ignoring the needs of the poor.

The country's problems are considerable: widespread poverty, unpaid wages, corruption and loss of control over the breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and Ossetia.

Mr Shevardnadze, who has survived two assassination attempts, says Georgia has come a long way from the violence that wracked the country in the early 1990s and points to a modest economic recovery.

Inflation once topped 7,000% a year but is down now to under 10%. Mr Shevardnadze says that if he wins he will devote his next term in office to a war against poverty and corruption.

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07 Apr 00 | Media reports
Shevardnadze's campaign pledges
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