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Former ex-defense Minister's candidacy rejected

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, April 24
Former Minister of Defense Irakli Okruashvili will not be able to participate in local elections. The Central Election Commission (CEC) rejected an April 22decision of a lower election administration permitting the former defense minister to run for mayor of the town of Gori in the June 15 elections.

Okruashvili was a close ally of the former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, until certain problems arose and Okruashvili left the cabinet in 2006. The step was followed by the creation of an opposition party by the former official and his arrest in 2007. Okruashvili was released on bail and left the country. He had lived in exile in France, having gained political asylum there. Only after the rise of power of the Georgian Dream coalition, Okruashvili has managed to come back to his home country in 2012.

The Gori District Election Commission (DEC) chairman issued a decree on the registration of Okruashvili as a Mayoral candidate on April 19 but the decision was challenged before the CEC by two political parties: the People's Party and the Movement for Fair Georgia. They stressed that Okruashvili returned to country in 2012 and lacked the obligatory two years permanent residency in the country.

The CEC discussed the appeal and after lengthy consideration, Chairperson Tamar Zhvania said that the CEC had decided to annul the Gori DECís decree. Nine against two was the final decision. Zhvania states that both categories of members of the CEC, professional ones and those who are representing political parties, supported the annulment of the initial decision.

Zviad Kordzadze, who is a lawyer of Okruashvili, says that the decision will be appealed in the court. He argues that regardless of whether Okruashvili was physically in the country or not, the former ex-defense ministerís has always registered Georgia as his place of residence.

Therefore he needs to be axxeptred as a candidate for Gori mayor.