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Georgian Ruling Party Names “not Loyal” Candidate for Public Defender

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, November 27
(TBILISI)--The ruling Georgian Dream (GD) ruling party has broken with its own established practice of nominating party loyalists for key government positions by submitting Nino Lomjaria’s name as its candidate to be the country’s next public defender.

Lomjaria, who served as deputy head of State Audit Office and chaired the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, was one out of four nominations backed by Georgia’s civil society and activist groups, most of whom are harsh critics of the GD and accuse the ruling party of increasingly authoritarian policies.

“We held consultations with members of the country’s civil society. We took their views into account, as well as the nominees’ qualification, experience and impartiality,” Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze said after nominating Lomjaria.

Lomjaria thanked the GD for the nomination, saying she was ready to hold consultations with all parliamentary groups before being voted into office.

The other three candidates included human rights defender Vakhushti Menabde, head of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association Anna Natsvlishvili and journalist Zviad Koridze.

In their previous statements the United National Movement and European Georgia opposition parties claimed the GD would nominate a staunch party loyalist for the post. Seemingly taken aback by the move, both parties said they will allow Lomjaria to make her case to the parliament.

Georgia’s current public defender Ucha Nanuashvili, whose five-year term expires in December, has repeatedly said his successor“must not be comfortable” for the ruling authorities.

Lomjaria will need at least 76 votes in the 150-member legislative body to be sworn in.

The legislative body is scheduled to select a new public defender by December 7.