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Compiled by Messenger Staff
Monday, January 4
Vashadze might replace Tarkhnishvili as Central Election Commission Chairman

Rezonansi writes that the Central Election Commission’s term has expired and the President is due to nominate two or three candidates for Chair of this body. According to lobby correspondents Saakashvili plans to replace Levan Tarkhnishvili with Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze.

The issue of who chairs the CEC is a very urgent one as it is responsible for the conduct of elections. It is believed that the President’s decision to dismiss Tarkhnishvili was the result of a political agreement. It was subsequently announced that the President would nominate three candidates and the opposition would choose one of them.

”I am sure they will nominate a Tarkhnishvili with three heads instead of one. This is a trap. I shall not participate in electing the President's candidates. Why can't the opposition nominate three candidates and the President choose one of them?” MP Gia Tsagareishvili has asked. However the relevant law has been passed and the CEC Chair must also be appointed not elected, the publication adds.

The draft law on the electoral amendments will come into force before January 11. No official statement has been made concerning the rumour that Grigol Vashadze will be nominated for CEC Chair. Majority side MPs say that this is the President's decision and they have no information on this, but removing Vashadze from the Foreign Ministry has been discussed before. The President has 7 days left in which to make a decision.

Will more than three parties participate in the primaries?

Rezonansi writes that the Alliance for Georgia will not participate in the primaries and is suggesting that the other opposition parties to unite around a single candidate without holding them. However the initiators of the primaries believe it is unrealistic to expect this to happen. However they might offer a new variant of these elections to the public.

On December 30 Zurab Tkemaladze proposed that the primaries should only be held to identify a common candidate for Tbilisi Mayor, party lists and programmes for the Tbilisi City Council and other elections being presented independently. Tkemaladze said that there are ideological differences between the parties that will prevent them agreeing on the single candidate.

Irakli Alasania says that the consultations on establishing opposition unity will continue, but the primaries present dangers, as the Government can use them to create confrontations within the opposition. The National Forum, Labour Party, Movement for United Georgia and Democratic Movement – United Georgia will boycott the elections. Therefore there is no sense in either holding primaries or participating in the elections, the publication adds.

"We have had 7 meetings with the parties and there will not be only three parties participating in the primaries. We met the Industrialists yesterday and Zurab Tkemaladze offered a plan for the primaries which is very important indeed, and we plan to work actively on this," Zviad Dzidziguri, Conservative Party leader, stated when interviewed. "Under this plan the primaries will reveal only the Mayoral candidate while all the opposition parties will act independently in all other respects. This is a plan with many aspects and I cannot speak about them all directly.

"The question of whether there will be only three parties standing in the primaries will be answered at the end of January. I am sure that the number of the parties will increase," Dzidziguri concluded.