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U.S. Embassy releases statement over alleged violations

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, June 10
The Embassy of the United States to Georgia released a special statement in terms of the alleged pressure placed on opposition members to withdraw their names from the candidate lists. The embassy released the statement on June 8.

The statement reads that the Embassy of the United States is increasingly concerned about reports of campaign incidents and allegations of government pressure on candidates to withdraw their candidacies, and of opposition aggression toward election officials in certain locations prior to the June 15 municipal elections.

“We call on the authorities to objectively investigate these allegations and take steps, both technically and politically, to ensure that the high standards recognized by the international community in the last two elections are met in these upcoming elections. It is important for the government, each and every party, and every electoral district to play their part in consolidating the highest standards of democracy in this region,” the embassy reports.

Responding to the statement, the government stressed that “all types of violence” are unacceptable to the current government. The statement reads that the Georgian Dream coalition is a leading force and, thus, conducting transparent and fair elections is in the party interests. The government administration claims that all facts of alleged violation are being investigated.

The government members and the Prime Minister state that incidents of unrest during the pre-election period are presumably caused by the parliamentary minority United National Movement.

Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaniani states that the Interagency Commission that is chaired by the Minister of Justice should react on the statement made by the U.S. Embassy in a timely manner.

“Studying all the details and reacting to the alleged violations is the prerogative of the commission. A representative of the Foreign Ministry is involved in the commission’s actions. From my point of view, the commission works very successfully,” Zalkaniani said.

UNM member Gigi Ugulava stated that the Georgian Dream Coalition has already exhausted all legal resources to win the elections, and now use unfavorable ways to encourage their victory in the local elections. Ugulava stresses that the activities of the current government damages the country’s image.

“The statement made by the embassy is really alarming… all our allies can observe the negative developments in the country,” Ugulava said.

Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili assessed the U.S. Embassy statement as “timely and needy.” According to him, if violations are not appropriately addressed, this could provide stimulus for more harassment.