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UNM refuses to participate in the run-off municipal elections

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, October 25
The United National Movement opposition has announced they will not participate in the run-off municipal elections. The second round of voting will be held no later than November 15.

The party named an “unfair election environment” as the main reason and stated the party members were unanimous on the decision.

One of the leaders of UNM Nika Melia called on other opposition parties to boycott the second round of elections to be held in six municipalities.

"Even now, the Georgian Dream does its best to rig elections in favor of them,” he said.

Melia underscored that the elections were conducted through “total intimidation, threatening and blackmail.”

“The battle is beginning now and the Georgian Dream should be afraid of it. I think every opposition party, if there is any such party, will take an appropriate decision and will not take part in the second round of elections and will not get engaged in Bidzina Ivanishvili's [founder of the Georgian Dream] game," he stressed.

Despite Melia’s confident statement, it seems that opinions vary inside the UNM. A member of UNM Salome Samadashvili stated she did not support the refusal.

"I think the political board of the party made a mistake when it decided not to take part in the second round of elections, even under unfair conditions, in Kutaisi and Martvili,” Samadashvili noted.

“Sadly, I found myself in the minority. The party's entire resources should have been focused on the second round. We would have shown better how elections were rigged,” added Samadashvili calling the declined second chance “a missed political opportunity.”

The Georgian Dream majority representative Eka Beselia says that the UNM knows they have no chance in the run-off, as the ruling party’s candidates are in leading positions in all the six municipalities.

“The UNM does not want to spend money and time on the run-off, they will definitely lose,” stated Beselia.

In the six municipalities the Georgian Dream candidates gained bigger number of votes, but they failed to attract the mandatory more than 50 percent of votes.

The local and foreign observers stated the October 21 elections were calm and mostly fair, however the presence of party supporters near polling stations were not welcomed. The National Democratic Institute (NDI) also warned about the threat of one-party dominance based on the elections results.

The Georgian Dream won majority in all city councils and the mayoral race.

Georgian citizens voted for 2,058 members of 64 city councils (sakrebulo) and 64 municipal mayors on Saturday.