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By-Election Held in Telavi

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, October 3
By–elections were held in Telavi, Kakheti region, on October 2. According to the Central Election Commission of Georgia, opposition representatives and NGOs, the elections took place without serious violations.

After the death of the Telavi majoritarian representative to the parliament, Gia Arsenishvili, by-elections were scheduled. Three candidates participated in the elections: the former Telavi governor, Vasil Davitashvili from the ruling United National Movement, Telavi municipality member Vasil Arabuili from Industry will save Georgia and Nikoloz Lashkhi, the head of the regional organization of the Christian–Democrats.

The majority candidate, Davitashvili, was eloquent about his plans after fixing his focus on the electoral district. Davitashvili argued that his main aim is to create a better environment for socially unprotected people in Telavi, assist agriculture, tourism and viniculture development. He went on that Telavi should be renovated and built up as well as Tbilisi and Batumi. The other two candidates, Lashkhi and Arabuli, were less verbose and expressed their wish that Telavi residents make a fair choice and enable them to really develop the region.

The head of the election commission of Telavi, Davit Mkalavishvili, stated that the election districts were opened on time and the voting process was ongoing in the framework of the law.

As the representative of the Christian–Democrats, Giorgi Akhvlediani, told The Messenger, the elections were going on peacefully, without any serious violations, however, according to him, there is not a great deal of activity from the side of Telavi residents in the election process. As Akhvlediani mentioned, victory is important for them in the elections, however one thing carries more importance, “it is a serious trial run for the election commission and all the people involved in the process. These elections are some kind of preparation for the serious 2012 parliamentary elections.”

According to the chair of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), Tamar Chugoshvili, the election process was smooth and without any serious violations, “we are not represented in all election districts, however our mobile groups manage to monitor each district . One fact which has attracted our attention was that there are people in election districts, which write down who participated in the voting and who does not. This is not a direct violation of the law, however, we think that that it might influence voters’ free choice,“ Chugoshvili told The Messenger. She also mentioned there were mainly technical and structural violations, but several of them were eradicated after GYLA’s intervention.

According to 16:00 Sunday the turnout of voters was 20-30%. The primary results of the election will be known on October 3. According to the electoral commission, there are 56,932 voters in Telavi and 54 election districts.

A day before the by-election in Telavi, President Saakashvili visited the town to personally endorse the ruling party’s candidate in Sunday’s polls. At an indoor meeting with supporters, President Saakashvili praised locals for their patriotic behaviour after the war in 2008. At the meeting Saakashvili pledged round-the-clock supply of drinking water in Telavi by 2013, “top quality roads” in each and every village of the Telavi district and turning the town into a genuine cultural, tourism and economic centre of the entire Kakheti region, “we will establish modern enterprises here, as well,“ Saakashvili said.