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Sides cannot agree on who should be allowed to vote where

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, December 29
Majority and opposition MPs discussed the mechanism of voter list compilation at a meeting in the Hotel Sheraton Metekhi Palace on December 28. Only Republican Tina Khidasheli attended from the non-Parliamentary opposition, but the Christian Democratic Movement and the Georgian Troupe participated from the Parliamentary opposition.

The meeting ended without concrete agreement on the issue, both sides having different arguments and attitudes. The opposition is accusing the Government of artificially inflating the number of voters in Tbilisi, claiming that the ruling party is registering supporters based outside the capital as Tbilisi voters. "The Government should let us check the voter lists and the registration of Tbilisi electors must be suspended until after the Mayoral elections," Tina Khidasheli stated.

Christian Democrat Levan Vephkhvadze also suggested that the voter lists should be finalised as soon as possible. "The Government is trying its best to increase the number of its supporters in the capital by registering its supporters in the regions as Tbilisi residents. We demand the finalisation of the voters’ lists, which means that no more voters will be inserted there,” Vephkhvadze stated.

Government members have stated that its main goal is holding free elections and it will therefore take the opposition remarks into consideration and registration will be temporarily stopped in Tbilisi. "The opposition's accusations are a bit unclear for me, as we have talked about voter list monitoring and expressed the same attitudes on some important issues concerned with this. However, so there are no more comments from the opposition side we will suspend voter registration in Tbilisi until June 1," said Pavle Kublashvili from the National Movement.

The opposition's statements were dismissed by MP Akaki Minashvili. "These statements that the Government is trying to increase the number of its supporters by some dubious means are absolutely groundless. Our aim is to hold fair elections and we are always ready for collaboration with the opposition,” Minashvili stated.

National Democrat MP Guram Chakhvadze objected to suspending the compilation of the voter lists. "There are some kind of elections every two years in Georgia, and if registering people as residents and handing them ID cards stop whenever elections take place this is a violation of human rights,” Chakhvadze suggested, adding that a better way to control who appears on the voter lists is to stop adding names to that list rather than stop registering people as residents of a particular place, which is what the opposition are proposing.

Discussion of the voters list is still ongoing and the opposition and Government have presented several ways of agreeing their content. One is that the lists should be checked by the parties themselves or a special committee consisting of different party representatives financed from the state budget which will ensure that dead or unqualified people are not on the lists. The special committee option seems to be most favoured so far, but there is no consensus. The third and final hearing of the issue in Parliament will determine which option becomes law.