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Election observation head meets opposition leaders

By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, April 23
Leading members of the Alliance for Georgia, the party of Georgia’s former UN Ambassador Irakli Alasania, have met head of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) observation mission in Georgia Audrey Glover. The sides had a “serious and meaningful” talk about the election environment in Georgia, according to the Alliance members.

Irakli Alasania said that the Alliance had presented its viewpoint about the problems in the voters’ list. “We told the OSCE monitors how the voters’ list checking is being carried out by the CEC and what problems exist in terms of media freedom,” Alasania said after the meeting. "We discussed in detail how the police and security services of the Ministry of Internal Affairs interfere in campaign activities, and of course we had a serious talk on how the National Movement and Interior Ministry representatives disturb the election campaigns of opposition forces by pressuring members of the opposition parties,” the Alliance for Georgia leader stated.

According to Alasania the sides discussed ways to eliminate the possibility of election rigging. “We received full guarantees from the OSCE monitors that the confidentiality of voting will be protected. This is important in order to persuade voters to come to the elections and participate. They now know that the confidentiality of their votes will be guaranteed by the international community,” Alasania said.

Davit Gamkrelidze from the New Rights, which is part of the Alliance, said that the number of foreign observers at the upcoming local elections will be “unusually” big. “This is very good,” Gamkrelidze said. “Rigging starts not on election day but during the election campaign, so the presence of foreign observers in Georgia during the campaign is crucial,” Gamkrelidze added. Irakli Alasania said that meetings and consultations with the OSCE monitors and other opposition parties will continue.

The election environment in the country was the main subject of discussion at a further meeting, between Christian Democratic Movement leaders Giorgi Targamadze and Levan Vephkhvadze and the OSCE mission head. The OSCE monitoring mission has already started observing the election process “very actively”, MP Targamadze said after the meeting. “We provided the OSCE monitors with the detailed information on how we assess the development of the campaign process and informed them about its shortcomings and ways of resolving them,” Targamadze stated. He stressed the importance of the cooperation of CDM members and the Central Election Commission members with the OSCE representatives. “All the CDM’s regional organisations have been instructed to provide OSCE monitors with information about every violation, so that they can be reacted upon timeously,” the MP noted.

Audrey Glover assessed the meetings with opposition forces as “interesting”. She said that the observers will meet representatives of all political parties in Georgia to obtain information about the election environment in the country.

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) launched its observation mission to monitor the upcoming local elections in Georgia on April 16. It contains 16 experts and 24 long-term observers. An additional 350 observers will be sent later to monitor the poll itself and the count. The local elections will be held on May 30, 2010.