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Election violations reported

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, May 17
A meeting between the Parliamentary Interfactional Group and NGOs was held behind closed doors on May 15 at which the NGOs outlined various electoral violations it had identified.

The meeting was attended by the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), Free Elections, New Generation-New Initiative, Transparency International and Multinational Georgia. The GYLA representatives stated that serious violations have been taking place during the campaign period. "We have information that after being subject to serious pressure from certain political parties some candidates in the regions have withdrawn their candidacies. Those people do not want to give their names or talk about this in public, but we will inform the interfactional group about such issues. We also have concrete information from members of the Alliance for Georgia in Gori, about further violations being committed towards candidates. There have been instances of gifts being given to voters by both Government and opposition candidates, which is a violation of the election code,” Tamar Khidasheli, Chair of GYLA, stated before the meeting.

Head of the interfaction group Guram Chakhvadze stated, "We will react to all violations, both now and in the future. Putting pressure on voters and any other type of electoral violation is unacceptable. Some violations have already been addressed and several sanctions have already been applied. We need free and democratic elections and I am sure we will manage to achieve this,” Chakhvadze said.

The NGOs have also appealed to the Central Election Commission concerning the violations it has reported, as CEC Press Speaker Juli Giorgadze said. "17 statements have been delivered to the CEC, the greater number of these written by local NGOs, the rest by private individuals. We have discussed these and an official statement on what decisions have been made will be given by CEC Chair Zurab Kharatishvili, on May 17,” Giorgadze said. The CEC has already opened a “complaints registry” on its webpage, which enables everyone wanting detailed information on the complaints made to the Central Election Commission to look through them. The CEC’s responses to these complaints will also be listed.

A code of ethics concerning the conduct of the local elections has been signed by the Chairs of central election and precinct committees and all the members thereof. The CEC states that by signing the document all signatories take the responsibility to act impartially during the elections and respect the rights of all parties and voters. The code has been adopted based on international principles and 48,064 employees of election administrations have already signed it. However the Labour Party finds it unacceptable. "This ethics code has no legal standing and we are not going to sign this. How can anyone think that signing this code means that the Georgian Government is planning to hold free and democratic elections? Government-appointed committee members, whose number is significant in each committee, falsify the elections shamelessly, unlike our representatives, who try their best to prevent falsifications. Until the election code is changed, signing any code of ethics is pointless,” a Labour Party statement says.