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NGOs Criticize Election Commission for Appointing Elections on Working Day

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, November 19
Georgian leading NGOs ISFED, Georgian Young Lawyers' Association and Transparency International - Georgia have released a joint statement last week where they criticized the Georgian Central Election Commission of appointing the presidential election runoff on Wednesday, on 28 November.

They said that despite a number of statements of the NGOs, the Central Election Commission appointed the second round of elections on a working day.

The NGOs say that the appointment of the second round of elections on Wednesday creates barriers for certain groups in terms of realizing their constitutional rights.

"This contradicts the essence of the election administration - to ensure a fair, equal and accessible environment for everyone. The election administration should serve the interests of every citizen of Georgia. However, in this case, the Central Election Commission failed to serve this aim," the statement reads.

The NGOs claim that the election administration did not take into account the interests of Georgian citizens residing abroad and their right to participate in the elections by creating an artificial barrier for them.

"In order to reduce the damage caused by this barrier, the Central Election Commission extended the voting time to 12:00 pm for the polling stations abroad. However, it is unlikely that this will help the voters who have to go to another city in order to vote due to their work or education.

“Furthermore, by adopting this regulation, the Central Election Commission exceeded its mandate and violated the Election Code of Georgia, as the Code clearly says that polling stations shall be closed at 20.00," reads the NGOs’ statement.

The Georgian government has allocated 10 million GEL for the runoff which will be held between the ruling party –endorsed and the opposition candidates.

The ruling Georgian Dream party-supported presidential candidate Salome Zourabichvili received 0.9 % more votes in the first round of elections than his opponent from the united opposition Grigol Vashadze.

As none of the candidates were able to receive mandatory 51 % of votes, the second round was scheduled.