Council of Armenian Organizations Calls for High Alert

AKHALKALAK (A-INFO/EurasiaNet) Continued opposition protests across Georgia may have prompted commanders of the Russian military base in the mostly Armenian populated Georgian region of Akhalkalak to put troops on alert–although the situation in the region was stable–and as opposition leaders called for a break in protests throughout the country on Thursday.

Preliminary results of the November 2 parliamentary elections in Georgia indicate that the bloc supporting President Eduard Shevardnadze will again emerge as the country’s most powerful political grouping.

The Council of the Armenian organizations in Javakhk called on the local population–political parties–and candidates to remain calm and avoid confrontations.

Local Armenian Grigor Keropian–was arrested by police on election day for "profanities against the president," and was released after 12 hours.

Another clash was reported in Akhalkalak between supporters of candidates Henzel Mkoyan and Mher Grigorian.

GEORGIAN PROTESTERS TAKE A BREAK

Relative calm prevailed in Georgia on November 6–as opposition leaders declared a pause in protest actions over disputed parliamentary election results.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) was continuing to tabulate the results of the November 2 parliamentary election. The latest figures showed the pro-government For a New Georgia bloc with 24.3 percent of the vote–2 points ahead of the opposition National Movement. A parallel vote count shows the National Movement to be far ahead of For a New Georgia. CEC Chairwoman Nana Devdariani has vigorously defended the accuracy of the official count.

Opposition leaders remain convinced that the discrepancy in the vote counts is the result of government vote-rigging. Mikheil Saakashvili–the National Movement leader–suspended demonstrations organized by an opposition "united front" until November 7–when the final CEC vote totals are expected to be released. In the meantime–he is demanding that officials refrain from fixing the election–hinting darkly that if the opposition complaints are left unaddressed–he will mount popular protests that aim to topple President Eduard Shevardnadze’s administration.

Meanwhile–the United States has expressed concern about voting irregularities. US Ambassador to Tbilisi Richard Miles conveyed Washington’s concerns to Shevardnadze during a November 5 meeting. Miles called on Shevardnadze to take measures that promote popular confidence in the electoral process–according to a report by the Kavkasia-Press news agency. Miles pointedly mentioned "the delays in the counting of votes" as a particular source of concern.

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