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  Tuesday, November 19, 2019
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A candidate for Georgia's early presidential elections due on January
A candidate for Georgia's early presidential elections due on January 5 announced on Wednesday he was pulling out from the race in protest against unequal campaign conditions.

Tamaz Bibiluri, who heads a union of journalists in the South Caucasus state, said he has been denied access to national media.

Speaking in front of parliament, where mass protests took place in early November, Bibiluri said: "I am withdrawing my candidature in protest. Today I will hand over documents, proving that the upcoming elections will be flawed, to international organizations and embassies in Georgia."

Earlier on Wednesday the Georgian government issued a request to prosecutors for the resumption of TV broadcasts by the main opposition television station Imedi, which was raided and shut down during the Tbilisi rallies after authorities accused it of inciting a coup.

The ex-Soviet state's Western allies have pressed for the ban on Imedi, co-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and Georgian billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili, be lifted.

A total of 16 people have announced plans to run in the snap presidential polls. However analysts have suggested the majority of candidates, many of whom are relatively unknown to the public, will fail to secure sufficient support to be registered.

Georgia's Central Election Commission will announce registered presidential hopefuls on December 11 after it concludes checks of supporters' signatures and other documents.

President Mikheil Saakashvili announced the snap elections after riot police brutally clamped down on the protests in the capital in Georgia's worst political crisis since the 2003 peaceful "rose revolution" that brought him to power.

Saakashvili stepped down as president in late November to start his election campaign.

Other candidates include the opposition's single candidate Levan Gachechiladze and Patarkatsishvili, who is currently living abroad.


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