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Elections on May 30, as expected

By Liana Bezhanishvili
Friday, March 19
It has been officially announced that the 2010 local government elections in Georgia will be held on May 30.

This is the latest possible date according to the Elections Code, and the President has to issue the corresponding order sixty days before the elections, i.e. by 31 March, Zurab Kharatishvili, Chairman of the Central Election Commission, said at a briefing.

At the same briefing Parliament Chairman Davit Bakradze made an official statement on recent amendments to the Election Code. “These amendments came into force yesterday, March 17, and state that the local elections should be held on 30 May. According to the law such amendments should come into force two months before the election they refer to, but we thought it better to introduce them three months before so that all political parties, including the opposition parties, can plan their campaigns and prepare for these elections,” Davit Bakradze said.

Candidates will be officially nominated after the President issues the order to hold the elections, Bakradze said. He added that the National Movement will nominate its Tbilisi Mayoral candidate on 30 March. "The public will be very surprised if the candidate is not Gigi Ugulava,” Bakradze said. He also stated that a lot of observers will be invited, among them 400 OSCE observers and some from various national Parliaments, the European Parliament and others. To try and ensure that free and fair elections are held. “I appeal to all political parties to use the sums allocated to them for checking the voters lists to best effect until this process finishes on 10 April and if any inaccuracy is found immediately report this to the CEC," Bakradze said.

One of the leaders of the Christian Democratic Movement (CDM) Levan Vephkhvadze told journalists "I demand that the President creates a fair competitive environment. The candidates should have equal conditions during the campaign period. In my opinion Gigi Ugulava should not be conducting an election campaign. Formally he is not breaking the law but it is obvious that he has more opportunities than other candidates,” stated Levan Vephkhvadze.

Representatives of the new National Council said that the authorities would not dare change the date of the elections. Its constituent parties were holding a protest action demanding the release of political prisoners. “We knew that the local government elections would be called for May 30th and the Government could not dare appoint another date,” stated Leader of the Movement for Fair Georgia Zurab Noghaideli.

The Alliance for Georgia said it will nominate its candidates in the next few days. Irakli Alasania said it has already begun its campaign. He stated that the main aim of the party is to gain victory by means of elections and it will achieve this and the Government will be changed.

Leading Alliance figure Sozar Subari stated that Irakli Alasania has the highest rating of any politician in Georgia.

He said that before 13 March two-thirds of the capital's residents supported Gigi Ugulava but after the simulated news programme his rating has decreased. However analyst Zurab Abashidze says that situation has not been significantly changed by the Imedi TV programme. "By my observation Gigi Ugulava and Irakli Alasania have the highest ratings, with Ugulava leading. Maybe after the simulated Imedi TV news programme his rating has declined but not very significantly,” Abashidze told The Messenger.