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The CEC has a new chairperson

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Friday, September 13
The Central Election Commission of Georgia (CEC) has a new chairperson. At the session on September 11th, the six members of the commission unanimously elected Tamar Zhvania.

The decision on electing the new chairperson was made through a secret ballot by CEC members. Manuchar Gamkrelidze and Konstantine Amirajibi were the two other candidates President Mikheil Saakashvili had nominated for CEC chairperson.

"I think this is a very important decision before the presidential election and I, as a chairperson of the CEC, can tell our voters that the process will be as transparent as possible." Zhvania stated.

The CECís new chairperson will not make administrative changes before the upcoming presidential election scheduled on October 27th. The major challenge for her at this stage is to hold a democratic election. "There will be changes by all means, but the biggest changes will be after the election. For now the main goal is to ensure that people have a feeling of stability." Zhvania stressed.

According to Emzar Kakulia, a member of the CEC commission, the main reason why Zhvania was chosen is that she has considerable experience in working on election issues. "Since 2000, Zhvania has had significant experience in election issues. She is fully accredited and she has taken part in various international training courses, projects and research." Kakulia stated.

Nino Goguadze, another member of the CEC commission, stressed that one of the main reasons she has voted for Zhvania was that Zhvania was recommended by trustworthy NGOs and is very competent.

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili welcomed the appointment of Zhvania as CEC chairperson. Ivanishvili said Zhvania, who was the UN electoral program coordinator, and supported by all political parties and civil society representatives, will guarantee that October's presidential election will be conducted in a free and fair environment. "Zhvania is the candidate who is supported by the leading political parties and civil society." said Ivanishvili. "I believe that she will use her experience in order to ensure that the October 27th presidential election will be transparent and fair."

Zhvania held her first official meeting with Thomas Melia, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and Richard Norland, the U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, behind closed doors.

11 non-governmental organizations supported Tamar Zhvania for the post of Chairman of the CEC, including International Society of Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Transparency International Georgia, the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA), Open Society Georgia Foundation, Article 42 of the Constitution, the Election Environment Development Center, etc.

Zhvania has extensive experience in working on election-related issues. For the last five years she has been in charge of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Georgiaís electoral assistance program and has supervised joint projects of the European Union and UNDP. She has worked on electoral issues abroad, including as international program manager at the National Democratic Institute (NDI). Zhvania has been a representative of international observation in different countries as part of the missions of the OSCE/ODIHR, NDI and the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. Between 2004 and 2007 Zhvania was an executive director of the International Society of Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED).