GEL 1.2 million (about USD 680,000) of state funding will be available for the political parties for the purpose of carrying rechecking of voters’ list ahead of local elections planned for May, Zurab Kharatishvili, new chairman of the Central Election Commission (CEC), said on January 28.
The funding is envisaged in line with amendments passed by the Parliament in December, 2009. According to the amendments those parties, which are eligible for the state funding, will receive additional finances for carrying out activities related with re-checking the voters’ list.
GEL 1.2 million will be distributed equally to each eligible party willing to participate in the process.
Kharatishvili said that as of January 28, seven opposition parties had expressed readiness to take part: New Rights; Republicans (both part of the Alliance for Georgia); Georgian Troupe; Georgia’s Way; On Our Own, Conservative Party and Industrialist Party.
The ruling party can also apply for participation in the process, which will be carried out from February 5 to March 15. Results of re-checking the voters’ lists should be submitted to CEC before March 31.
In a related development, Republican Party, which along with New Rights and Our Georgia-Free Democrats is part of Alliance for Georgia, called on CEC on January 28 to also jointly address other election-related areas, which remain a source of concern for the opposition.
Davit Usupashvili, leader of Republican Party said the Alliance for Georgia was offering to create “meaningful mechanisms” not only for re-checking of voters’ list, but also to secure impartial and balanced broadcast media coverage; impartiality and transparency of law enforcement agencies to prevent their interference in the electoral process.
These initiatives by the Alliance for Georgia came after CEC Chairman, Zurab Kharatishvili, called on the political parties having representatives in CEC to strike a memorandum banning them from withdrawing their representatives from CEC.
Kharatishvili said that such rule would increase “independence” and “impartiality” of party-appointed CEC members, as they would not have fear of losing the seat in CEC if they refuse to follow their respective party’s line while voting on various decisions in CEC.
In the 13-member CEC six are appointed by following parties: Republican Party; Labor Party; Conservative Party; Christian-Democratic Movement and On Our Own (two latter parties are part of the parliamentary minority.
One member in CEC is appointed by the ruling National Movement party.
Five members formally are certified electoral officials not affiliated to any political party; however, they are regarded as loyal to the authorities. And 13th CEC member is Chairman Zurab Kharatishvili, whose appointment on the post was not supported by the opposition.
Davit Usupashvili, leader of Republican Party, said on January 28 that his party would join the CEC chairman-proposed memorandum if Alliance for Georgia’s proposals were also included in the document.
Otherwise, he said, the Republican Party would consider the CEC Chairman’s proposal on allowing the opposition CEC members to chair the voter list monitoring group as “a PR move” aimed at “overshadowing” electing government-loyal member of CEC as the commission secretary. Gizo Mchedlidze, a long-time CEC member was elected on the position on January 26. Opposition members of CEC were supporting Nino Goguadze of Conservative Party.