Holding of “free” parliamentary elections on May 21 “is a matter of national security,” President Saakashvili said while meeting with locals in Batumi, Adjara Autonomous Republic, on May 6.
“We will protect it with our teeth to ensure that Georgia has a future. This is my appeal, request and a warning at the same time,” he said.
Saakashvili made these remarks while commenting on a controversy in which the ruling party became involved after its majoritarian MP candidate in the provincial Tsageri single-mandate constituency in western Georgia, Valery Giorgobiani, was implicated in the intimidation of local self-government employees after the opposition released covertly recorded audio tape. Giorgobiani, consequently, had to pull out from the race.
“One of the candidates in the Tsageri district decided to exert pressure on the local self-governance bodies,” Saakashvili said. “It happened just two days after I strictly warned public officials not to interfere in the electoral process, not to side with any of the candidates.”
“I think everybody should understand that I am not joking when I am speaking. Holding of free elections in Georgia is the issue of our dignity. All those, who hamper it, would be held responsible. Although this candidate himself decided to withdraw from race, I also had taken decision - and I told about it to our party leadership and they agreed with it – to strip him of candidacy and to bring the investigation [into the case] to the end. I want to make it clear once again – do not try to make a mess, do not try to intervene illegally in the electoral processes.”