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President nominates CEC chair candidates

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, September 11
President Mikheil Saakashvili named the candidates on the leading position of the Central Election Commission (CEC) on September 10. The candidates are: Tamar Zhvania, Manuchar Gamkrelidze and Konstantine Amirejibi. Chair of the CEC should be elected by the Central Election Commission within a five-day period. Presumably, the CEC chair will become known earlier.

Through the statements made by the NGO sector and political parties, the most favored candidate for the position is Tamar Zhvania. Her candidacy was raised by 11 leading NGOs and then suggested by the president to the CEC.

Tamar Zhvania states that in the case that she is chosen to the position, the priority will be the upcoming presidential elections.

“I will do my best so that the elections to be held in a fair and transparent environment and for the outcomes to be trusty for Georgians and for the international community,” Zhvania stated.

Manuchar Gamkrelidze admitted that he had a long-term relationship with the NGOs sector.

“Let us wait for the CEC decision regarding the issue,” Gamkrelidze said.

Fellow candidate, Konstantine Amirejibi shifted attention on the presidential elections as well, stating that now all the attention should be focused on the presidential elections.

“Only after concluding the elections can we speak about the deep changes at the CEC. Undertaking reforms prior to the presidential elections might create confusion,” Amirejibi stated.

Member of the Central Election Commission, Irakli Khorbaladze, stated that the most favored from the named candidates is Zhvania.

“My sympathy is towards Zhvania as well. However we will have consultations at the CEC and the final decision will be made in the near future at the sitting,” Khorbaladze said.

Fellow member of the CEC, Nino Goguadze, did not exclude personal meetings with the candidates.

“All three candidates are professional; they have serious experience in elections issues. That is why we do not think that a 5 day term will not be used by CEC and that the chair will be named soon,” Goguadze said.

The presidential candidate of the United National Movement (UNM), Davit Bakradze, stated that the president selected worthy candidates based on their professionalism.

“We hope that the current administration will follow the path and the CEC chair will be chosen through a wide public consensus,” Bakradze stated.

Giorgi Margvelashvili, the presidential candidate of the Georgian Dream coalition stated that choosing the CEC chair timely and fairly has significant importance on holding the presidential elections democratically and transparently.

The former head of the CEC, Zurab Kharatishvili, emphasized that he had long-term collaboration with Tamar Zhvania and could characterize her only positively.

“As for the rest candidates, they are unfamiliar for me,” Kharatishvili stated.

The head of the Georgian Way, Salome Zourabishvili thinks that Georgia will have a better CEC under the named candidates than it was earlier.

The head of the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), Giorgi Targamadze said that Zhvania’s candidacy has no alternative.

“We, political leaders and political parties know her very well. She has an excellent experience and reputation,” Targamadze stated.

Zhvania was with the local election observer group International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) for seven years until 2007, and acted as its executive director from 2004-2007 before joining the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Tbilisi office as a manager of the electoral assistance project.

Amirejibi serves as a chair of the District Election Commission in Tbilisi’s Vake constituency. Gamkrelidze is a CEC employee, who previously served as a chair of the District Election Commission in Kobuleti.

In case if the CEC fails to choose the chair, Parliament will select him/her within a seven day period from the named candidates.