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Roelofs withdraws from race

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, October 25
Georgia’s ex-First Lady Sandra Roelofs has declined to take part in the October 30 second round of Parliamentary Elections as the United National Movement (UNM) majoritarian candidate in western Zugdidi region.

After the first round on October 8 and repeat voting on October 22, Roelofs stressed participating in the second round of the elections would be “insulting for her”.

The results of the first round of elections were annulled at three polling stations in Zugdidi due to several violations, and repeat voting took place on October 22.

However, Roelofs gained fewer votes in the repeat voting than the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party candidate, but none of the candidates managed to overcome the mandatory 50 percent threshold that meant the necessity of the second round.

Roelofs said “she was the winner” after the first round of elections, and the outcomes were fabricated by the Government and “the informal ruler of the Georgian Dream party, ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili”.

She vowed to support the Zugdidi population from Parliament [Roelofs is the second in the UNM party list] or from some other position.

Georgia’s ex-President, now the Governor of Odessa in Ukraine, Mikheil Saakashvili, dedicated a Facebook post to his wife’s decision.

Saakashvili, who was against the UNM members participation in the second round, said he “respected” his wife’s decision and highlighted it was “Sandra’s personal decision and other UNM members should also respect that”.

The ex-president, who is wanted for several charges in Georgia and who lost his Georgian citizenship due to taking Ukrainian nationality, said his wife “has fought hard in the elections”.

UNM member Givi Targamadze said Sandra Roelofs’ decision was “unacceptable.”

"The party’s political board made a decision to participate in the second round. Therefore, Mrs. Roelof’s decision is unacceptable. Moreover, it generally damages the second round of the campaign,” he said.

“Sandra Roelofs’ decision ahead of the second round is somewhat unfortunate and damaging,” Sergo Ratiani, one of the leaders of the UNM, said.

"We will fight in the second round. This is important for our country in order not to let Ivanishvili get a constitutional majority [at least 100 lawmakers from one party out of the 150 –seat legislative body]. We all knew that Ivanishvili would use all methods of intimidation and violence,” Ratiani said.