Opposition fail to elect CEC Chair
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, January 15Parliament will have to decide who the next Central Election Commission (CEC) Chair will be as three of the opposition members of the CEC refused to take part in the election on January 14, voiding the votes of the other three members, as the winning candidate is obliged to obtain at least four votes.
The Labour and Conservative parties had already announced that they would boycott the elections, stating that as all the candidates were supporters of the Government participation in the process would be pointless. The third member who refused to vote was Gocha Jojua of the Christian Democratic Movement. The CDM had been against a boycott, but Jojua refused to vote at the last minute.
"The President nominating such candidates should be considered a form of hooliganism, as each of them is a Government supporter and would not guarantee free elections. In this situation, our participation in the CEC Chair’s election has no meaning. However despite this we will defeat the Government in the Mayoral elections,” Zviad Dzidziguri, from the Conservative Party, said. Labour's Kakha Dzagania stated that, "the opposition should not take part in a show staged by the President and should ignore this election, as this would be another sign that the opposition in Georgia can be united and coordinated.” Gocha Jojua said that "the violation of the law from the President’s side concerning the timeframe in which he could nominate the candidates left minimal time for consultations so that an agreement between opposition representatives could not be achieved.In such circumstances participation in this election has no reason,” Jojua said.
The other three opposition parties with a representative on the CEC, the Republicans, We Ourselves and the Industrialists, took part in the election but their votes were annulled. The Republican representative crossed out all the candidates and the other two did not circle any. Paata Davitaia, leader of We Ourselves, stated that "the fact that the opposition representatives could not manage to elect the CEC Chair has given an opportunity to the Government. Now the CEC Chairperson is to be elected by Parliament and the Government will be able to nominate its most acceptable candidate from those three,” Davitaia stated. Paata Marakvelidze, the Republican representative, said that "the Party had already expressed its negative attitude to the candidates, the presented persons are unacceptable for us.”
Political analysts have also expressed opinions on this issue. Ramaz Sakvarelidze has said that the President’s nomination of those three candidacies was a hint that the Government does not intend to be passive during the local elections. "The Government will try to conduct the electoral process as profitably for itself as possible, but within the law. As for the candidates, it is significant that they are all Government supporters. Tarkhnishvili’s renomination is a sign that the Government does not recognise that it made mistakes in previous elections. It is not expected that Tarkhnishvili will be the new CEC chair, but this might be a hint that he will be appointed to some Government post,” Sakvarelidze said. Soso Tsiskarishvili said that "The nomination of these candidates can be considered immoral behaviour from the Government side. Tarkhnishvili’s renomination means that he is a hero of the National Movement because he falsified previous elections for them. As for the other two, it is possible that they will follow the same course,” Tsiskarishvili stated.
Parliament must elect the new CEC Chair from the three candidates nominated (Levan Tarkhnishvili, Otar Sichinava and Zurab Kharatishvili) by January 21. Unofficial information from Parliament suggests that Otar Sichinava will be elected.