The Georgian government announced on May 18 that it was setting up of an inter-agency group to monitor and react on possible violations ahead of October parliamentary elections and “to ensure a transparent and fair” electoral environment.
Giga Bokeria, Secretary of the Georgian National Security Council and Head of the Election Task Force (picture courtesy of BBC)
The Inter-Agency Task Force for Free and Fair Elections (IATF) is headed by Secretary of National Security Council Giga Bokeria, and includes representatives from the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Justice, Regional Development and Infrastructure, Finance, and Foreign Affairs, as well as from the office of National Security Council.
Creation of such group is envisaged by the election code, according to which the deadline for setting of the inter-agency task force was July 1, 2012. According to the election code, IATF is mandated with “preventing of and reacting to violations of electoral legislature by public officials.” More…
For the last nine years Georgian NGOs and civil society in general have been struggling to regain the status within their society that they held prior to the Rose Revolution of November 2003. That event on the one hand brought many civil society leaders into the political mainstream, as the government of President Saakashvili tapped into the talent of the mainly young civil society leadership to fill many government posts. On the other hand the government’s approach to what was left of civil society has since then not always been friendly. A senior government official recently described civil society leaders as “Tbilisi based, elitist and disconnected”.
There are some signs that a new generation of civil society leaders are now ready to reclaim the ground lost. More…
Over the next eighteen months the three countries of the South Caucasus – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, will conduct important elections that many consider will determine the future of the individual countries and of the region, and most certainly will decisively impact their relations with Europe.
The cycle kicked off on May 6th with Parliamentary Elections in Armenia. Parliamentary elections in Georgia are scheduled for October. Next year will see the three countries voting in Presidential elections.
The region has a history of troubled and contested elections, and whilst some polls have been better than others, many observers feel that there has not been a single election, since the three countries regained their independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, that fully met international standards. This situation continuously raises questions of legitimacy around the three governments, and has been a matter of concern to European Union and US officials, who are keen to increase relations with the region and see this situation as a major obstacle. More…
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has repeated his committment to hold free, fair and transparent parliamentary elections in the Autumn. Addressing a meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Economic Forum in the Georgian Black Sea Port of Batumi, Saakashvili described the committment as important for the country’s future security.
“We would like a large number of international observers, including from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly to come before the elections,” Saakashvili said. “We want to get their advice before the elections. The advice will enable us to improve the pre-election sphere to conduct the most transparent elections.” The Georgian President said “we are ready to cooperate with international institutions and will do everything to hold just elections for no one to have any questions.”
The Georgian President also said that Russia had decided to conduct large military exercises in the Caucasus region close to the Georgian elections . The President said that for these reasons the elections are very important, “on the one hand, for Georgian credentials, but they also have a huge security dimension.”
Parliament of Georgia
Georgia’s ruling party, the United National Movement, is pushing ahead with a constitutional change that will bring Georgia in line with progressive European countries.An initiative of the UNM aims at revising the Constitution of Georgia by lowering the age at which one can stand for a parliamentary seat from 25 to 21 years. The public discussion period for draft amendments has concluded, and a discussion on the results of these meetings took place in Parliament on May 7, where it was recommended that the initiative enter the standard legislative process. More…
Georgian media has over the last weeks carried a string of reports of intimidation, by officials of local authorities, of opposition supporters in Georgia’s regions. There are also reports of violence against opposition activists.
Rezonansi newspaper and other media outlets have reported the dismissal of more than twenty school teachers in the Shida Kartli region due to their support of opposition parties, or as in the case of Gori School teacher, Ia Bzhalava, because her husband was an activist of the opposition Free Democrats.
The web site Democracy and Freedom (DF) Watch also reported the case of Giorgi Beruashvili, former employee of Privat-Bank in Kareli, a village in Shida Kartli, who was fired only because his sister and mother were attending a Georgian Dream meeting. He told DF Watch that he was considered as one of the bank’s most valued employees before that presentation, and no one had ever mentioned that he was in danger of being fired. But the day after the presentation, he was told that he was fired, because ‘members of his family think in an opposition way.’
Tsisana Javakhishvili says she was the only biology teacher at the public school in the village Nikozi near Gori. She was fired only because she held different views; her husband participated in the local elections in 2010, representing the Free Democrats. The official reason for her firing was lack of experience. But it later emerged that the headmaster directly told her she had to leave her job because of the political views of her husband, because ‘he didn’t need an oppositional [person] at school.’ More…