Officials in Washington believe that, in spite of irregularities during the run-up to Georgia's parliamentary elections, the vote will be competitive because the opposition has money to overcome obstacles erected by incumbent authorities, a US State Department official said.
The governing United National Movement party, led by President Mikheil Saakashvili, has used administrative resources during the election campaign, and has “harassed” the opposition, said Thomas Melia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Melia also said it was “troubling” that among the UNM's candidates for parliament are the former head and deputy head of the State Audit Office, the organ which has levied heavy fines on the main opposition leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili.
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Joshua Kucera is a Washington, DC,-based writer who specializes in security issues in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East. He is the editor of EurasiaNet's Bug Pit blog.