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News in Brief

Thursday, December 27

NGOs establish joint media center

Local NGOs, including the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, Transparency International Georgia and New Generation-New Initiative, have established a joint media center in preparation for the January 5 presidential election.

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association chair Giorgi Chkheidze told journalists that the NGOs will cooperate to verify and release all January 5 polling data from the same location.

The head of the New Generation-New Initiative NGO said they would be holding a parallel tabulation of ballots. (Prime News)

Four representatives of Azerbaijani CEC to observe election

Four representatives of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Azerbaijan will observe the presidential election on January 5.

Two of the Azerbaijani representatives will observe the election as part of a CIS observation mission, and the other two on behalf of the CEC of Azerbaijan. (Prime News)

MP Bezhan Gunava claims to be under pressure

MP Bezhan Gunava, a member of the opposition coalition, says he is under pressure from local authorities.

Gunava told Imedi TV that a police officer in Zugdidi called him and demanded he leave the city immediately.

“The policeman told me that an assault on me is being planned, and if I don't leave the city, police will forego any responsibility for my security,” Gunava stated.

Gunava called on international organizations and foreign observers to look into the matter, and insisted that he would not be run out of Zugdidi. (Prime News)

Interior Minister brings up emergency rule provision at cabinet meeting

Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili was to submit two items to the cabinet for discussion on December 26.

Merabishvili was to speak with the government about two projects related to the definition and control of states of emergency.

Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava was to submit several projects about privatization projects. (Prime News)

US ambassador releases statement on alleged coup plot

US Ambassador to Georgia John Tefft released a statement on December 26 in response to recently publicized tapes of tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili and his ally allegedly detailing plans for a violent coup after the January 5 presidential election.

“While we do not intend to comment on the specifics in the tapes recently released by the Government of Georgia, we believe this is a serious situation,” the statement read.

“It is important that elections proceed and the people of Georgia are allowed to vote freely without coercion or intimidation. The Georgian people need to be able to express their views and chose their government on January 5, 2008. We are happy to note that international monitoring of the elections will be in place. We have complete confidence in the ODIHR and OSCE monitoring of elections. They represent a clear international standard of election monitoring,” the statement concluded. (Black Sea Press)

New Rights skeptical about Georgian media’s exit polling

The oppositional New Rights party, which is backing party leader Davit Gamkrelidze for the presidency, is casting doubts on the exit polls commissioned by the Rustavi 2, Mze, Georgian Public Broadcaster and Adjara television networks for the January 5 presidential election.

“We express distrust in the initiative to hold exit polls on January 5, as has been ordered by companies controlled by the authorities. We prefer parallel counting of votes,” New Rights member Mamuka Katsitadze said.

The exit polls, he claimed, will be “part of the great performance staged by Saakashvili.”

Exit poll organizers told journalists that updates will be released at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on the day of the election, and results will be released by 11 p.m. that night.

The exit polling will be conducted by Tbilisi State University, the Caucasian Institute of Peace, Democracy and Development, the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs and the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies. (Black Sea Press)