Oct. 27 - Georgian voters head to the polls in a presidential election to end the decade-long rule of Mikheil Saakashvili. Rough Cut. (No Reporter Narration).
ROUGH CUT. (NO REPORTER NARRATION). STORY: Georgian voters headed to the polls on Sunday (October 27) to elect a new president to replace Mikheil Saakashvili's decade-long rule and test confidence in the ruling Georgian Dream coalition led by billionaire prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. Polls opened at 0800 local time (0400GMT). Voters filed into a central Tbilisi polling station to cast their votes, as election workers guided them to the clear ballot boxes and marked their fingers with ink to confirm they voted. Twenty-three candidates are vying for the position, but of those 23, the front-runner in Sunday's poll is Georgy Margvelashvili, a confidant of Ivanishvili, whose coalition ousted Saakashvili's cabinet in a parliamentary election last year. Victory for the 44-year-old philosopher would cement Georgian Dream's grip on power. But the clarity may not last long as Ivanishvili, a billionaire businessman and fierce political enemy of Saakashvili, has said he himself will stand down after the vote. The impending exit of the two rivals makes it hard to tell who will call the shots in Georgia, a country of 4.5 million people which fought and lost a 5-day war with Russia in 2008. Polls will close at 2000 local time (1600GMT) with first preliminary official results to be announced within several hours after the voting ends.