Addressing supporters at UNM’s campaign rally in Zugdidi via video link from Ukraine, Georgia’s former president and now governor of Odessa region Mikheil Saakashvili said that UNM’s victory in the October 8 parliamentary election is “absolutely inevitable.”
He said that “according to polls” the UNM is “winning very well” in the regions and in Tbilisi too.
Referring to his wife, Sandra Roelofs, who is running as UNM’s majoritarian candidate in Zugdidi municipality’s single-member district, Saakashvili said: “I sent to Zugdidi my closest person… Sandra – that’s me.”
Addressing the same campaign rally in Zugdidi, Roelofs, who is also number two on UNM’s list of MP candidates, said Saakashvili would be back to Georgia “to celebrate [election] victory together with us.”
MP Davit Bakradze, who is number one on UNM’s party list of MP candidates, told the rally that they “are very close not only to our victory, but to the victory of our country.”
“12 days are left before the elections – the day when we tell ‘no’ to backsliding and start moving Georgia with new energy towards the better future,” Bakradze said.
Meanwhile in Tbilisi, several activists from UNM-affiliated group, Free Zone, announced on September 26 about quitting the organization, accusing UNM and its leader Mikheil Saakashvili of planning post-election disorders. Two of the former activists of Free Zone claimed that they met Saakashvili in Kiev about four days ago and discussed the issue. After voicing this allegation, the activists were summoned by the State Security Service for questioning.
UNM responded that activists’ allegation was a result of pressure exerted on them by the State Security Service.
Seizing upon allegations voiced by former activists of Free Zone, GDDG ruling party again accused the UNM of trying to stir up “provocations.”
“That’s what we were saying about UNM – that it is planning destabilization… It is good that there are people within UNM, who distance themselves from such attempts,” GDDG’s executive secretary, Irakli Kobakhidze, said.
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly delegation, which paid a three-day visit to Georgia last week to assess pre-election situation, said on September 24 that most of the interlocutors during the meetings in Tbilisi noted “improved” campaign environment, compared to the one in 2012.
“The delegation noted the active competition between parties,” it said. “While most interlocutors noted a polarized campaign environment, it was reported to be less tense than the previous parliamentary elections. The delegation took note of allegations of instances of intimidation and disruptions to campaigning, and called on all stakeholders to exercise restraint. They encouraged stakeholders to make use of official procedures for complaints and investigation of any campaign incidents.”
In several separate comments made last week U.S. ambassador to Georgia, Ian Kelly, hailed the way campaigning is conducted in the lead up to the October 8 elections. He said on September 21: “In very general terms, I think, that we are pleased with how the tone of the campaign has been very issue-driven. I think, in many ways, it has been exemplary how this campaign has been conducted. We are staying in very close touch with political parties, we are aware that there are incidents of intimidation and we have conveyed some of our concerns to the Georgian government. But, I think, by and large, I wish our elections in America were as issue-driven as the ones here.”