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Dates of primaries announced

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, February 11
The Commission on Opposition Primaries, which will organise contests to identify common opposition candidates for the forthcoming local elections, gave dates on which these could be held on February 10. Batumi, Poti, Kutaisi, Telavi, Gori and Rustavi will hold primaries on March 21 and other East Georgian regions on March 27. In the West Georgian regions, oppositional primaries will be held on April 11. On April 18 the final primary will be held in Tbilisi to choose a candidate for Mayor.

Lado Bozhadze, Chair of the Commission on Opposition Primaries, stated that "from February 11 all candidates who want to take part in the opposition primaries will be able to register with us. A second round of primaries is not excluded if none of the candidates gains more than 50% of the vote.” All opposition parties will be informed of this decision and will be called on to participate in the primaries one more time.

The Conservative Party first suggested holding opposition primaries and has since been joined by the People's Party and Movement for Fair Georgia. The leaders of the Conservative and People's parties, Zviad Dzidziguri and Koba Davitashvili, have said that they would like to stand for Tbilisi Mayor but first participate in the primaries. Ex-PM Noghaideli’s Movement for Fair Georgia remains part of the initiative but Noghaideli himself has no wish to stand.

At present six parties are intending to participate in the primaries: the Conservative Party, the People’s Party, the Movement For Fair Georgia, Christian Georgia, the Party of the Future Party and the Mamulishvili Veterans and Patriots Coalition. However these parties say that others might join the initiative as consultations with other parties have not finished yet. Based on unofficial information former Presidential candidate Levan Gachechiladze might take part. "I can say that we are having consultations with Gachechiladze, but at the present moment he has not made a decision. If he makes a positive decision he will announce it himself,” Kakha Kukava, joint Conservative Party leader, has stated.

The Central Election Commission finalised an electronic version of the Tbilisi voters list on February 10 which each interested citizen can check. "We are doing our best to make the elections free in Georgia, and the electronic version of the list is now available for all interested people. The CEC will send people this list if they ask for it and they will be able to check it personally,” CEC Chair Zurab Khartishvili said. Opposition MP Jondi Baghaturia said, "this is very much acceptable to me, but the most effective way to check the lists is door-to-door checks by the opposition parties.” The CEC Chair mentioned that he will meet all the opposition parties taking part in list rechecking on February 13 and listen to their remarks and suggestions.