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(Repeating with correction in the slug)

By Staff

Moscow, Jan 6 (UNI) Former Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili is leading the presidential elections in the former Soviet republic with 57.58 per cent of the vote, leaving United opposition candidate Levan Gachechiladze far behind with 22.56 per cent, Russian news agencies reported quoting the Georgian Central Election Commission today.

With results available from 229 polling stations out of 3,512, it is becoming clear that a second round is unlikely.

Mr Saakashvili has gained over 50 per cent of the vote, but the opposition has said the vote was rigged, RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili received about six per cent, followed by Labour Party leader Shalva Natelashvili with 4.3 per cent, New Rightist leader David Gamkrelidze with 3.5 per cent and others with less than one per cent of the vote.

The vote is seen as a democratic test for Georgia after recent opposition protests were suppressed.

Media reports from Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, said there has been a mood of celebration around Mr Saakashvili's campaign headquarters, with people waving flags and cars tooting their horns.

But no official results have yet been published and Mr Saakashvili has not claimed the victory.

He said he would wait for the final results but was confident of victory without a run-off against his nearest rival.


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