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The News in Brief

Thursday, June 19
Kakha Kukava may leave politics

Free Georgia party leader Kakha Kukava might leave politics. Kukava made the mentioned statement on Rustavi 2 TV.

According to him, the population showed in the municipal elections that Georgia does not need his party’s service. "Our votes have been stolen. There was Ivanishvili's instruction about not allowing us to cross the barrier, but we also realize that our voters showed mistrust to us. In any case, the result would be low. We received a clear message from voters that the Georgian population does not need our service. In the nearest time the leadership of the party will meet and decide how and what to do in the future", said Kukava.

As for the anchor's question if he was thinking about leaving politics, Kukava noted that he was "logically thinking about it." "It is natural, I am logically thinking about it, but I do not want to make this statement directly after getting low results. I went into politics 10 years ago with my principles. I could have taken high posts in various governments but I refused them. Instead, I was always standing on Rustaveli Avenue beside our people. I have tasted batons, gas and water cannons. Our society, Tbilisi evaluated this by 2% of support, and I would be a fool not to think about the necessity of changes after all this," Kukava said. (IPN)

More concerning incidents of electoral violence and the government’s delayed response IRI

The International Republican Institute (IRI) has published a statement on the June 15 municipal elections of Georgia.

“On Sunday, Georgians went to the polls to elect mayors, heads of municipal distracts and municipal councils and with a record-breaking number of candidates contesting thousands of elections, IRI's assessment team found that Election Day voting was efficient and well-organized. Despite changes to election law and procedures for voter identification, local election officials were knowledgeable about their responsibilities and carried out their duties efficiently. Relatively few Election Day violations were reported.

These elections were notable as they saw significant changes to the election law and a greater say for voters in who governs them. In response to a greater demand for democracy, these elections allowed, for the first time, citizens outside Tbilisi to elect their mayors and heads of municipal districts. As a result of the changes to the election law, the vast majority of municipal officials are now directly elected by Georgian voters.

Other changes to the election law saw the introduction of a 50-percent threshold for mayors and gamgebelis to be elected in a first round. The threshold for parties to be elected to local councils was lowered from five to four percent of the total vote; and changes were also made to the voter identification procedures which improved the voting process.

IRI found that the campaign period was generally competitive. However, opposition parties did note cases of pressure from local officials on candidates to withdraw and interference in some campaign events organized by opposition groups. More concerning are incidents of electoral violence and the government’s delayed response. While these incidents were relatively few in number, opposition candidates must be able to freely campaign before voters for elections to be credible. Georgian officials should investigate these reports and hold those who are guilty of violence and intimidation accountable. It is IRI’s hope that the government and opposition parties will address these concerns and prevent these actions from happening in future elections”, the statement says. (Frontnews)

Khajimba Likely to Run in Early Presidential Poll in Breakaway Abkhazia

The Coordinating Council, which united the political parties and movements that ousted breakaway Abkhazia’s leader Alexander Ankvab, has supported the nomination of Raul Khajimba as its candidate in snap presidential elections scheduled for August 24.

Coordinating Council said in a statement, carried by the Abkhaz official news agency Apsnipress, that it was decided with “overwhelming majority” at a meeting on June 17 to “recommend” nomination of MP Raul Khajimba, leader of the Forum of the National Unity of Abkhazia party, as a presidential candidate. Vitaly Gabnia, chairman of union of the Abkhaz war veterans, Aruaa, has been picked as Khajimba’s vice-presidential running mate.

Khajimba’s candidacy has yet to be formally nominated; registration of candidates will start on June 25 and the deadline will expire on July 14.

It will be Khajimba’s fourth attempt to win presidency in the breakaway region.

Khajimba, who graduated KGB's academy in Minsk in mid-1980s, was the breakaway region’s vice-president in 2005-2009. He took that post as a result of a power-sharing agreement with then Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh following a fiercely disputed presidential election between Khajimba and Bagapsh in 2004. In that presidential election Khajimba’s presidential bid was openly supported by Moscow. In 2009 presidential election Khajimba lost the race against Bagapsh, when the latter was re-elected on the post.

In the 2011 early president election in which Alexander Ankvab won with up to 55% of votes, Khajimba was third in the race with just under 20% of votes. (