Georgian Parties Hold Final Pre-Election Rallies

Posted September 29th, 2012 at 3:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Supporters of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili have held their final political rallies in preparation for parliamentary elections on Monday.

Incoming lawmakers will select the next prime minister, who will be granted some presidential powers after Mr. Saakashvili finishes his term next year.

President Saakashvili and his United National Movement drew some 55,000 people to his rally on Friday evening, many of them bused in from the provinces. But the president, who has held office since 2003, has drawn criticism for heavy-handedness, and his administration took a blow earlier this month when video aired on Georgian television, showing prison guards abusing inmates.

Ivanishvili's opposition coalition Georgian Dream Saturday held a rally that drew about 100,000 people. The billionaire opposition leader told the crowd that Mr. Saakashvili's system must be destroyed. He said the fate of the country is at stake.

It is not clear which side will take the most votes in Monday's election.