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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

 

Clash over Tbilisi mayoral elections

From The Messenger (Georgia):

The issue of Tbilisi's mayoral elections has become one of central importance for Georgian politics. The opposition is unanimous in demanding that the local authority make the post of city mayor a directly elected position. Despite such protests, the government has already adopted on first hearing changes in the law on the mayor of Tbilisi that provide for the exact opposite.

According to the changes, the Sakrebulo (City Hall) will elect the Tbilisi mayor, meaning in effect that the ruling party will choose its own candidate, as new legislation also changes the system by which Sakrebulo members are elected, raising the possibility that all Tbilisi councilors will be representatives of the ruling party. Following changes to the constitution of the Central Election Commission which oversees all elections in the country, as a result of which the CEC is now staffed entirely by Saakashvili allies, the latest amendments to the law on local elections in the capital has led opposition parties to accuse the government of authoritarianism.

In response, the parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition state that they will not participate in future elections and with this step they will put the authority in an uncomfortable situation with its Western allies. The opposition hopes that this will be followed by a serious reaction from the international organizations.

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