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Opposition invited to check voters lists

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, January 27
Zurab Kharatishvili, the new Chairman of the Central Election Commission, chaired his first session on January 26. Kharatishvili outlined a new initiative, that a joint memorandum is signed with opposition parties which will enable the opposition and NGOs to establish a special group, staffed by their own members, to verify voters lists. This group will be financed by the CEC.

“We will start working on the voters lists from Monday. I want to offer you a proposal that will allay any mistrust about politicians with a political bias doing this work. I intend that oppositional representatives will conduct it. I remember that it was the Republicans who made remarks about the lists so I want to ask their representative to lead the working group,” Kharatishvili said at the session.

“It was a great surprise to hear such an offer from the Chairman. I am absolutely ready to be involved in this work and deal not only with the voters lists and the dispute commission but ensuring transparency in all the other areas under the CEC's competence,” Zurab Marakvelidze from the Republican Party stated. “This initiative is entirely acceptable to me, but this was such an unexpected offer that I can’t make any decision right now. I think I will make a relevant decision after consultations,” Guga Mtvarelidze, from the Labour Party, told the media.

A new Reform Centre was also established at the session. The main aim of this is to finance the opposition and NGOs and thus support their development, Nino Goguadze, member of the CEC from the Conservative Party, explained to the media. “We now have great financial support from the state budget and we hope that this will encourage all interested parties to participate in the elections,” she stated.

The first session of the new CEC also reelected Gizo Mchedlidze for a second term as Secretary. “I stressed the participation of the opposition in election activities. Let them deal with this issue and cooperate with us. I feel as if they have been trying to avoid taking responsibilities. This is absolutely natural as they always blame our representatives for everything,” Mchedlidze told the media.

The Messenger has asked Gia Khukhashvili, a political analyst, what he thought of the initiative. “The more cooperation there is between different political parties the more trust develops. But I must stress that a lot of mistakes have been already been made by our Government in this direction. I refer you to the elections of the CEC Chairman, at which one selected candidate was discredited to begin with while the other two were known Government supporters Our Government has done everything it can to lose trust of the electorate. Now it is simply trying to cover up its mistakes with different initiatives, which is illogical,” Khukhashvili told us.

Zurab Kharatishvili plans to negotiate with the leaders of different parties about his new initiative. He also plans to discuss the issue of financial support with them in detail. The next CEC session will be held on January 29 and the parties should present their decisions on the initiative then.