Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said on July 10 that his government had “an ambition and desire” to hold “exemplary clean, free and fair” presidential election on October 27.
He said in a televised address that “exemplary” election should become “the clearest demonstration of a fundamental change that occurred in the country.”
“Our political team has an ambition and desire to achieve a decisive victory in these elections, but we have more important ambition and desire – to hold exemplary clean, free and fair elections in Georgia, the elections which merit the country heading towards Europe. Just this will be our common victory and establishment of democratic political order in the country,” Ivanishvili said.
In his televised address the Georgian PM appealed to his ruling coalition and other political parties, including President Saakashvili’s UNM party, as well as to law enforcement agencies, media, international and local organizations.
Ivanishvili called on those representatives of UNM party, who, as he said, were not part of the previous government’s “criminal system”, to use the presidential campaign as “a chance for distancing themselves from the illegality and for worthy political future.”
“Nobody expects making public apologies and repentance from you,” Ivanishvili said. “Try to explain sincerely to the Georgian people what has happened and why it has happened. Not only you need it, but the country needs it. You can demonstrate by your own examples how all the efforts of serving the country are inevitably wasted, when unilateral rule is established, truth becomes monopolized, power goes beyond legal frames and dissent opinion is persecuted.”
PM Ivanishvili called on the law enforcement agencies to refrain from detaining those persons, who will be actively involved in the presidential campaign, except of those cases, when “there is a clearly substantiated extreme necessity.”
“Our priority is to put all perpetrators on the chair of a defendant, but during the presidential elections, the higher priority will be to ensure political freedom,” Ivanishvili said. “People are both prosecutors and judges during elections and just people’s free choice should define who enjoys with public trust and what prospects they have in future.”
Ivanishvili called for putting an end to the “shameful practice” when the ruling force was using the entire state resources against political opponents.
“Our government is the government for every citizen and every presidential candidate,” he said. “Therefore, the governmental and administrative system, including budgetary funds, police or other public institutions, will be directed to ensuring free and fair electoral environment and not to ensuring the victory of any specific candidate.”
He also called on the Georgian Dream coalition parties and other political forces in the country, “which were the victims of injustice and violence from the state for years,” not to use the election campaign for revenge.
“If we treat former officials like they treated us, we will continue moving in that vicious circle, which we have failed to escape from for decades,” Ivanishvili said.
He called on media to provide “impartial and objective” coverage of election campaign, saying that it would be a good test to see, which media outlet “manages to use the benefits of media free from state pressure, and which prefers to remain a weapon of propaganda.”
He also called on local and international election observation organizations and diplomatic corps to involve as many observers in the election monitoring process as possible.
“I am sure that a worthy candidate will gain a worthy victory during the forthcoming presidential elections, while those defeated will believe that even by defeat in an honest struggle, they have made a significant contribution to the country’s democratic development,” Ivanishvili said.
Secretary of National Security Council, Giga Bokeria, said that holding free and fair elections “will be very problematic” against the background of ongoing, as he put it, political persecutions in the country.
“I hope that [PM’s] statement will be followed by a real change of this existing course, otherwise we will face very difficult electoral process, which will pose threat to Georgia’s democracy,” Bokeria said.
Several candidates have already confirmed their intention to run in the October presidential elections, including Georgian Dream’s presidential candidate, Education Minister Giorgi Margvelashvili; Nino Burjanadze, leader of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia party; leader of Labor Party Shalva Natelashvili and former Labor Party member Nestan Kirtadze.
President Saakashvili’s UNM party is now in the process of selecting its presidential candidate through internal party elections, which is held in six stages involving regional conferences and debates between primary candidates; after two regional conferences former parliament speaker and now leader of UNM parliamentary minority group Davit Bakradze is leading in the primaries.
Leader of Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), Giorgi Targamadze, said his party would decide about presidential candidate within this month.