Page last updated at 17:41 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 18:41 UK

Georgia opposition vows boycott

Georgia's opposition supporters hold a rally in Tbilisi on 21 May 2008
The main opposition bloc won 17.7%, electoral officials say

Georgia's main opposition bloc has said it will boycott the country's new parliament, protesting against what it says was a rigged election.

"The opposition coalition refuses to work in the new parliament and will stay with its own people," opposition leader Levan Gachechiladze said.

President Mikhail Saakashvili's ruling party has won Wednesday's poll with nearly 60% of the vote, officials say.

Foreign monitors said the poll had not fully met international standards.

Mr Saakashvili, seeking to avoid a repeat of the street battles that preceded those elections, has pledged to work with his opponents.

Protest rally

Mr Gachechiladze, who leads the United Opposition bloc, said at a news conference in Tbilisi that the opposition would not enter the parliament building in the capital.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili
Mikhail Saakashvili now has the power to shape Georgia's future

He also urged Georgians to join an opposition-led protest rally on 26 May - the country's Independence day.

With all the votes counted, Mr Saakashvili's United National Movement secured about 120 of parliament's 150 seats - a constitutional majority, electoral officials said.

The United Opposition bloc was in second place with 16 seats, and the Christian Democrats and the Labour Party also won enough votes to be represented in the new parliament.

The size of Mr Saakashvili's victory will give him great power to shape Georgia's future, says the BBC's Matthew Collin in Tbilisi.

He will now feel he can press ahead with his radical reformist agenda, with guaranteed support from a parliament dominated by his party.

The president is also hoping to take Georgia closer to the West, and to join Nato.

Q&A: Georgian election
06 Jan 08 |  Europe
Profile: Mikhail Saakashvili
06 Jan 08 |  Europe

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