The messenger logo

Majority and opposition do not agree on changes to the election code

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, July 19
Georgian Dream has initiated changes in the election code that restrict the use of administrative resources. The proposed change also envisages that the Inter-Agency Task Force for Free and Fair Elections (IATF) be subordinate to the Ministry of Justice. The amendment was proposed by Georgian Dream MP Zakaria Kutznashvili on July 18th.

Kutsnashvili stressed that the goal of the new initiative is to put all presidential candidates on an equal footing during the election campaign.

The proposed law would impose restrictions on demonstrations in front of polling stations; determine disciplinary sanctions against members of the election commissions; prohibit public workers from campaigning during working hours; and impose restrictions on the use of public transportation during the election campaigns.

The proposed law also includes a provision banning campaigning on the day of the election within a 20 meter radius of polling stations. Violators will be fined 500 GEL. The Central Election Commission argued against this provision as it will be difficult to enforce and might create many "problematic complaints." In response Kutsnashvili suggested during past elections the presence in polling stations of political supporters affected some votersí decisions.

IATF is chaired by Secretary of National Security Council Giga Bokeria and is composed of members from various government ministries. It was formed in 2008 and the aim of the body is to detect and report election campaign violations to the relevant government agencies.

According to Kutsnashvili, the IATF should not be subordinate to the National Security Council, as the NSC has an absolutely different function. Kutsnashvili stated that NGO's proposed that IATF be subordinate to the Prime Minister.

"But the Prime Ministerís position was that it would not be right to interfere in this issue." Kutsnashvili said, adding that parliament will decide whether this body comes under the Ministry of Justice or not.

Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani is ready to chair IAFT if it is moved under the administration of her ministry.

Tamar Kintsurashvili, deputy chairperson of NSC, said that it is of no vital importance whether IATF is part of the Ministry of Justice. According to her it is important that IATF meets its current challenges.

"That includes addressing violence against the opposition and various minority groups and the lack of adequate investigation; politically-motivated legal proceedings and arrests of various public figures as well as holding elections in a free and fair environment." Kintsurashvili said.

In response to various Georgian Dream statements, various non-parliamentary opposition groups have made a joint statement that claims "There is no free and fair environment in the country for holding democratic elections."

They also accused Georgian Dream of violating agreements and that the demands and remarks of non-parliamentary opposition have not been brought to the legislative body for discussion.

"We demand that a negotiation process between us and the ruling party be renewed." the statement reads before threatening an election boycott if their demands are not met.

Non-parliamentary partiesí representatives also want to meet with the Prime Minister and discuss various election issues with him.