Georgia's ruling Georgian Dream party wins mayoral polls

Opposition United National Movement party rejects results, says it will unveil action plan to protect its votes soon.

Georgia's ruling Georgian Dream party wins mayoral polls

Georgia's ruling Georgian Dream party won the majority of municipalities in the country's local elections runoff, according to official results announced on Sunday.

The mayoral candidates of the ruling party secured 19 of the country's 20 municipalities, according to Giorgi Kalandarishvili, the head of the country's Central Election Commission.

Kalandarishvili said the Georgian Dream party's candidates received more than 50% of the votes in the country's largest cities, including the capital Tbilisi, Rustavi, Batumi, Telavi, Kutaisi, Zugdidi, and Poti.

However, evaluating the initial official results released by the Central Election Commission, Nika Melia, the head of the main opposition party United National Movement and a candidate for the Tbilisi municipality, claimed that the opposition actually won the elections.

Accusing the government of using violence against citizens during the voting process, Melia said they did not accept the results, and that they will announce an action plan to defend the opposition's votes in the coming hours.

He added that the opposition has declared the municipal elections "canceled."

1st round of elections

On Oct. 2, Georgia held its first round of municipal elections to elect 64 mayors and 2,068 city council members.

No mayoral candidate in the country's five largest cities, including Tbilisi, and a total of 20 municipalities could pass the 50% threshold.

According to official results announced by the Georgian Central Election Commission, the ruling party received 46.74% of the vote in the first round.

The main opposition leader and former President Mikheil Saakashvili's opposition United National Movement took second place with 30.67% of the vote.

Saakashvili, who served as the president in 2004-2013, was arrested and imprisoned on Oct. 1, days after he secretly returned from exile in Ukraine, prompting tens of thousands of people to rally in Tbilisi to demand his release.

He has been on a hunger strike for nearly four weeks to protest what he calls "politically motivated prosecution."

Doctors have expressed concern over the risk of irreversible damage to his health.