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Political parties sign code of conduct

By Shorena Labadze
Monday, April 14
On April 11 organizers unveiled a code of better political conduct signed by many of the country’s leading parties, both government and opposition.

The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), a US quasigovernmental organization, put together the project after persistent complaints of improper election conduct over the last several months. The contract asks political parties to respect a set of 14 rules for the May parliamentary elections.

The contract, binding in spirit only, demands good behaviour during campaigning—including refraining from xenophobic rhetoric, disrespecting journalists, pressuring voters and interfering with opponents’ rallies—and on election day.

The ruling party stands accused of pressuring state employees, while some in the opposition have, amongst other controversial stances, recently taken to accusing television reporters of political bias.

“Our organization worked on these recommendations during monitoring of the presidential election [in January]. It would be desirable if both sides will foresee the items set out in the document,” NDI Georgia director Mary O’Hagen told television station Rustavi 2, according to the station’s Georgian translation.

NDI says eight political parties have signed so far, including the ruling party and key segments of the nine-party opposition coalition.

“I am hopeful that this code will really work from the time of its official release. For several weeks I have called on our opponents to practice real discussions, with arguments, election programs, obligations and criticisms without insults,” Speaker of Parliament Nino Burjanadze said.

“There are rules which mustn’t be stepped over or broken. Georgia deserves normal and civil elections,” said deputy head of the president’s administration Giorgi Gabashvili.

Some non-government politicians greeted the code of conduct.

“Each of us must take his share of responsibility, in order to be more devoted to legislating,” said Giorgi Targamadze, leader of the recently-formed Christian Democratic Party.

Leader of the moderate Republicans Davit Usupashvili asked whether actions would match words.

“Personal integrity can’t be set to paper without the willingness of the person in question,” he said. “It’s hard to say whether or not the ruling party will keep to the obligations set out in the project.”

“If a person doesn’t have his own integrity, this document won’t teach him how to behave,” said Gocha Jojua, leader of Our Georgia and former chief of late billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili’s presidential campaign.