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Opposition reject establishment of common fund

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, February 12
The Parliamentary minority Christian Democrats offered all the other opposition parties taking part in the election list rechecking process a new way of doing this on February 11, but the parties failed to agree it.

The Christian Democrats called on all 12 parties taking part in the voter list rechecking to put the GEL100,000 allocated to each of them from the state budget into a common fund. "If the process of rechecking the lists is to be undertaken properly, all 12 opposition parties and movements should combine their allocated sums. Then we should choose together a non governmental organisations, which will monitor the expenditure of this fund,” Christian Democrat, Levan Vephkhvadze, stated.

Most of the opposition parties had expressed a readiness to coordinate their efforts to recheck the voter lists but ultimately found the Christian Democrats' scheme unacceptable. "It is no use creating a common fund. It will be more profitable for each party to check the lists from door to door and then share information. The most important demand I have at the present moment is to extend the deadline for voter list monitoring for two weeks,” Jondi Baghaturia, leader of Georgian Troupe, said. Member of the New Rights Mamuka Katsitadze explained for The Messenger that the suggested scheme might be dangerous. "Our party initiated opposition coordination in this work and the Christian Democrats' suggestion can be considered a respond to our initiative, which is really appreciated. But each party is personally responsible for the sum allocated from the budget. If a common fund is created, monitored by an NGO, detailed monitoring of how this money is spent will be more difficult and there is the chance that some kind of inappropriateness will occur which we will all have to take responsibility for. That is why this new scheme is risky, especially when the Government is monitoring the allocated money carefully and waiting for the opposition to make a mistake so it can damage its image in the eyes of the public,” Katsitadze said.

Conservative Kakha Kukava said that the Christian Democrats’ initiative is not acceptable for them either. "Coordination with the other parties and collaboration with them during the list on this in a few days, but forming a fund with the Christian Democrats, which we do not consider a real opposition party, will not be possible” Kukava told The Messenger. Movement for United Georgia leader Eka Beselia likewise stated that she will be responsible only for the sum allocated for her Movement.

CEC Chair Zurab Kharatishvili met Georgian media representatives at the Tbilisi Marriott on February 11, where both sides spoke about the role of the media during the elections and the importance of unbiased coverage of them. They also talked about how the Commission would cooperate with the media. The journalists proposed their ideas on this to the Commission and were informed that the CEC has moved to the former patrol police office in Dighomi.

“The upcoming elections – although they are local ones – may be of decisive importance for the country’s further democratic development, and we sincerely want these elections to be the best ever held in Georgia,” the CEC Chair said, adding that every Tuesday at 12 o’clock briefings will be held for journalists where their questions about the elections will be answered.

Levan Gakheladze, the Chair of the Georgian Public Broadcaster, suggested forming a media monitoring group for the local elections. Kharatishvili agreed to this, stating that he will encourage and technically assist any such group. The meeting was positively assessed by the media representatives, however The Messenger's representative expressed his concern at the voters lists submitted to the CEC by the Civil Registry, which appear to be overly large, and suggested that some clarification of their numbers should be made.