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It's official: elections on May 30

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, February 8
The local government elections in Georgia will be held on May 30, press spokesperson of the President of Georgia Manana Manjgaladze said at a briefing on February 6. Manjgaladze stressed that discussions about constitutional changes which would institute May 30 as the date for the local elections have already begun in Parliament.

“In order to enable all political parties, including the opposition parties, to better prepare and plan their election campaigns the President of Georgia has asked the legislative body to adopt a law defining May 30 as the date for the local government elections and the Mayoral elections in Tbilisi,” Manjgaladze told the media. “President Saakashvili welcomes the opposition’s participation in the election campaign. Several opposition members have expressed the wish to cooperate in rechecking voters’ lists. They will be able to actively participate in this process, which will first of all highlight the transparency of the campaign, the most important issue for society,” Manjgaladze added.

President Saakashvili offered to hold local elections on May 30 instead of the originally scheduled autumn during an address to Parliament in July, 2009. But no date has been formally set until now. A draft constitutional amendment awaiting approval by Parliament states that the elections must be held before June 1, 2010. The President was obliged to declare a specific date not less than 60 days subsequent to its announcement.

The elections will be transparent, democratic and fair, Davit Bakradze, Chairman of Parliament said at a working meeting with Zurab Kharatishvili, Chairman of the Central Election Commission (CEC), on February 5 while discussing election-related issues. The two sides considered the CEC initiative to establish a working group staffed with members of opposition parties to coordinate voters’ list rechecking. “Zurab Kharatishvili is ready to provide the working group with all it needs to cooperate with the CEC. The elections should be absolutely transparent for both the opposition and the public. Each citizen should have the feeling that the elections were fair and democratic. This will all be made possible by the initiatives we have discussed today,” Davit Bakradze told the media. “There is a full readiness in the CEC to take all remarks which the political parties may have concerning the lists into consideration. The Chairman of the CEC plans to present several new initiatives concerning the election campaign in the near future,” Bakradze added.

Davit Bakradze also discussed the initiative presented by Levan Vephkhvadze, the Vice-Speaker of the Parliament and member of Christian Democrats, about establishing a special fund to financially support the re-checking process. Vephkhvadze suggested that the amount set aside for each party at present is not sufficient. He also suggested that the political parties establish a supervisory board on the basis of agreed principles, such as selecting NGOs through competition, to manage this fund and establish exactly how the lists would be rechecked. Davit Bakradze stressed that the funds set aside for this process should produce specific results and the Government is ready to support this initiative if the political parties achieve consensus on how the lists will be rechecked.

The Messenger asked Conservative Party co-leader Kakha Kukava what his party thought of Levan Vephkhvadze’s initiative. “We completely reject it. We refuse to cooperate with a Government which habitually falsifies elections. But we, the non-Parliamentary opposition parties participating in the re-checking, will decide how it will be done,” Kakha Kukava said.

“This is exactly what we have been suggesting since discussions on this issue were started. We will definitely re-check the voters’ lists but within the Alliance. We will first see what other parties will do and then take any necessary measures,” Tina Khidasheli from the Republican Party added.