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American NGOs will provide election monitors to Georgia

By Etuna Tsotniashvili
Friday, June 29
The US Government will support election observation teams in Georgia for the forthcoming parliamentary elections in order to ensure the pre-election environment and the parliamentary elections meet international standards for free and fair elections. The statement on the initiative was made by the US Ambassador in Georgia John Bass yesterday at a press conference.

In the context of the upcoming electoral cycle, the US government will be funding a long and short-term election observation effort conducted by the Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI).

It will bring the total U.S. assistance for local and international election observation for the upcoming elections to nearly $2 million. The new funding will include support for three long-term observers from NDI from July to October and 12 and observers from IRI for the three months prior to the elections. On Election Day, NDI will provide 20 additional observers in the country and IRI will have 30.

“Both institutes will be operating under the declaration of principles for international election observing,” NDI President Kenneth Wollack said at a press conference. “All of us have a deep interest in the development of this country, because what happens in this country and its development is important not only for the people of Georgia but for the region and rest of the world,” he added.

Andrea Keerbs, Resident Country Director of IRI told media that IRI will have both long-term and short-term observers that will include both Americans and Europeans. “On July 21 they will be deployed in their locations. Long-term observers will be deployed in Adjara, Samegrelo, Imereti, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Kvemo Kartli and Kakheti. Short-term observers will arrive a week before the elections and will be deployed in the regions and in two groups in Gori,” she said, adding that the existence of independent observers in the election process is significantly important as they will report impartially what is going on in the country.

The US Ambassador has again reiterated that the United States government is not supporting any individual candidate or any individual party in this upcoming electoral cycle. Their efforts in Georgia– whether they involve discussions with the government, with the respective political parties, or if they are involved in assistance programming– their efforts are designed to support the people of this country and to assist in deepening its democratic culture and providing opportunity for its citizens to choose their elective representatives as part of their beliefs and the principle that the people should be free to choose their own future. “We believe that the most important objective of this electoral cycle is the increased confidence of the Georgian people in the legitimacy of the democratic process and in democratic institutions in this country,” he added.

Ambassador Bass has stressed upon the low percentage of female involvement in Georgian politics and due to this, a US government funded project will support the full participation of women candidates in the election. It will be implemented parallel to NDI, IRI and the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), to support training for women candidates, as well as acting as a public awareness campaign to address stereotypes about women’s involvement in politics.

“Georgia has very low percentages of women elected as representatives across the country relative to both the global average and the European average. As Secretary Clinton adequately says– policy is always better when it involves a broad spectrum of youth across society and most include the voices of women,” Ambassador Bass stated.

Since 2008, the U.S. government has provided $120 million in assistance intended to strengthen Georgian democracy, governance and the rule of law.