Parliament elected on January 15 Zurab Kharatishvili as a new chairman of the Central Election Commission (CEC) for a five-year term.
Kharatishvili, a member of public broadcaster’s board of trustees since February, 2008, was among the three candidates nominated by the President.
Two others were a judge of Constitutional Court Otar Sichinava and Levan Tarkhnishvili, who held the post of CEC chairmanship since October, 2007.
Tarkhnishvili, however, told the lawmakers just before the voting that he was withdrawing his candidacy, citing that he could not continue working with opposition members of CEC, accusing them of following their respective party lines, instead of acting as impartial electoral officials.
Zurab Kharatishvili, who will chair 13-member CEC including during the upcoming local elections in May, is a financial auditor. He was a member of a group within the CEC monitoring election campaign funds during the January, 2008 snap presidential elections.
The Parliament had to elect the new chairman after the opposition members of CEC refused to support any of the three candidates proposed by the President. The ruling party lawmakers described the opposition’s decision as “shunning away from responsibility.”
The opposition parties having seats in CEC, especially three of them – Republican, Conservative and Labor parties – were strongly against of all three candidates saying that they all were loyal to the authorities.
The Republican Party, part of the Alliance for Georgia, said Kharatishvili, who was the authorities’ pick for public broadcaster’s board back in 2008, was associated with Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili.
Also on January 15, the Parliament elected two new members of CEC and re-elected one member. Three seats became vacant after the previous members’ term in office expired on January 1, 2010.
Gizo Mchedlidze, who is a member of CEC and its secretary since 2005, was re-elected; two others are – Tamaz Sharmanashvili, who previously served as deputy chairman of election commission of Adjara Autonomous Republic and Konstantine Kirvalidze, an aide to ruling party lawmaker Pavle Kublashvili.