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Most parties will boycott the opposition primary

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, December 30
The interparty opposition group which is seeking to hold primary elections to determine a common opposition candidate for Tbilisi Mayor is not likely to succeed in doing so, as some important parties announced on December 28 that they were officially boycotting both the primary and the Mayoral election itself.

Nino Burjanadze, the ex-Parliament Speaker and leader of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia, said that it is unacceptable in principle to participate in the local elections and therefore the primaries. She said the Mayoral elections are a game which has already been lost in which the Georgian President and Interior Minister act as referees. Burjanadze has also mentioned that as the authorities have proved that they have no desire to create a democratic electoral environment, only a farce which will serve to legalise and prolong Saakashvili’s hold on the power he gained undemocratically can be expected.

"Our firm demand for an immediate change of the leadership is primarily conditioned by the belief that the current leadership cannot defend the interests of Georgia either in the face of the enemy or with allies. The current Government is dangerous for the country. The Democratic Movement-United Georgia considers it unacceptable to take part in the local government elections,” Burjanadze said.

The Labour Party also announced that it will not take part in either primaries or local elections. "As we are not going to take part in the local elections, participation in the primaries has no meaning,” said its leader Shalva Natelashvili. Holding primaries is not supported by the Alliance for Georgia either, but they, like the Christian Democrats, are taking part in the Tbilisi Mayoral and Council elections. "The opposition has no resources for holding primary elections,” Irakli Alasania, Leader of the Alliance, has stated. The Way of Georgia's Salome Zurabishvili has said through her Press Service that she will not participate in a primary but no final decision has yet been made about standing in the local elections themselves.

Participating in primaries has been officially rejected by the Parliamentary opposition Christian Democrats, but they will put up candidates in the local elections. MP Giorgi Targamadze, leader of the Christian Democratic Movement (CDM), announced on December 28 that it is very much expected that Giorgi Chanturia, once an influential figure in ex-President Eduard Shevardnadze’s administration, will be the CDM’s candidate for Tbilisi Mayor. "Chanturia will have a serious chance of winning the Mayoral elections, as he is an excellent manager with serious experience of implementing successful and innovatory projects,” Targamadze said.

The only opposition parties which the interparty group organising the primary, the Conservative Party, the People's Party and the Movement for Fair Georgia, have had fertile collaboration with so far are the Green Party and the Coalition of Police Veterans and Patriots. Green Party leader Gia Gacechiladze has agreed to participate in the primary. "We have not yet decided whether to take part in the local elections, but we are going to support the primary and send a representative to participate in it,” Gachechiladze said. Coalition of Police Veterans and Patriots leader Gia Berdzenadze has also said that it is ready to support the primary, but not yet decided about the local elections. "Only a common candidate can defeat the Government's representative, that is why we will take part in the primary,” Berdzenadze stated on December 29.

The Tbilisi Mayoral elections will be held before June 1. The Georgian Parliament decided on December 28 that citizens registered as living in the capital city between January 15 and June 1 will not be able to vote in the Tbilisi Mayoral elections. Those wishing to be registered in Tbilisi during this period will be given temporary registration cards, not official ID cards. Opposition parties will also receive additional funds from the state budget for checking the voter lists. However only political parties will now be able to nominate candidates for the local elections, no independent candidates being allowed to stand.