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Runoff Scheduled Amid Opposition’s Protest

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, November 16
The Georgian Central Elections Commission (CEC) has scheduled the presidential runoff on 28 November, which is Wednesday, and with the decision, it contradicted the appeals and demands of the civil sector and the opposition.

The opposition believes that the CEC decision announced late on Wednesday had been agreed with the Georgian Dream ruling party and was targeted to affect the united opposition’s presidential candidate Grigol Vashadze.

The United National Movement opposition, Vashadze belongs to, says that despite the fact Wednesday has been declared as a day off, many of the people may not go to vote, mostly referring to those who live in Tbilisi and are registered in the regions.

The party claims that a confidential meeting was held between the founder of the Georgian Dream party Bidzina Ivanishvili and CEC chairperson Tamar Zhvania before announcing the date, which has been dismissed by Zhvania.

NGOs say that the CEC did not violate the procedure but the body could have appointed the elections on Saturday for people would freely go to the regions and return to Tbilisi on the next day.

Prime Minister of Georgia Mamuka Bakhtadze says political speculations regarding the date of the second round of presidential elections are unacceptable.

“This is defined by the law. This is defined by a corresponding agency – the Central Election Commission and political speculations are not really necessary,” Bakhtadze said.

Public Defender Nino Lomjaria states that it would have been better for Georgians living in the country and abroad if elections were held on the weekend.

The runoff will be held in Afghanistan for Georgian soldiers on 26 November and Georgian voters abroad will have an opportunity to vote during 24, instead of 12 hours.

In the first round of elections, which was held on 28 October, the ruling party supported independent presidential candidate Salome Zourabichvili received 0,9 percent more votes than the opponent Vashadze. However, as none of the candidates were able to gain at least 51 percent of votes, the runoff will take place.