Stormy Elections
/ 2 Jun.'02 / 23:01

"Pre-election process have been a painful one, but I hope that the elections will have a peaceful end," said President Shevardnadze while voting. Despite President's hope, due to multiple facts of violation and disorder in the constituency, elections in several cities have been declared canceled. 

June 2 Local Self-Governance Elections went with loud scandals. According to the NGO Coalition, which observed the election process many types of violations were reported for midday. 

In Rustavi, main town of Kvemo Kartli region, elections in various districts were nullified one-by-one starting from the morning, due to hijacking of the ballots. The Central Election Commission (CEC) informs that their car, carrying the ballots, was attacked by unidentified group of people, who took away the ballots.

CEC Chairman Jumber Lominadze called the incident an "extremely regretful and disgraceful fact".

Rustavi incident caused voter's indignation. They gathered at the Governor's Office demanding his resignation. Later, certain part of protesters, led by the Rustavi city's mayoral candidate Merab Tkeshelashvili, arrived to Tbilisi and requested the CEC to hold by-elections. CEC meeting, attended by Tkeshelashvili as well, decided to hold by-elections on June 9.

Events developed almost under the same scenario in Zugdidi, where during armed assaults ballot boxes were destroyed. Shortly after, the First Deputy Governor of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region Giorgi Berulava and First Deputy Governor of Zugdidi Paata Danelia resigned from their posts.

Giorgi Berulava says that he resigned because disorders during the elections.

Elections in Kashuri also were a failure, because the ballots simply did not arrive to the city.  CEC will announce dates of the by-elections in Khashuri and Zugdidi on June 3.

"The government got what it wanted: The elections, in fact, are ruined. I would never expect or imagine anything that happened today," said Zurab Zhvania while voting in his election district.

The NGO Coalition, which has been monitoring the elections, registered violations in almost every election district in Tbilisi. Presence of the policemen were noticed at the constituencies and the posters of various political groups were still hanging on adjacent territories, which are prohibited by the laws in force.

Besides this, the observers reported functioning of so called 'rotary system', which means same group of citizens voting in different election districts for several times. Election laws were quite often violated due to ignorance of the members of district commissions.

MP Vasil Maghlaperidze told the Civil Georgia that the government has heavily humiliated the citizens. The government did everything to confuse the voters. Maghlaperidze shares fears of many politician and citizen, that the political forces, loyal to the government, will attempt to fraud the election results. "There are many in the CEC, who would do this shady business," Maghlaperidze says.

At 8:00 PM, all ballot boxes in Georgia were sealed and counting of votes has started.

After counting 10-15 % of votes in the districts, preliminary results of the elections will be announced approximately at 1:00 AM, June 3, said CEC Chairman Jumber Lominadze to Civil Georgia today. The final results will be known and officially announced only few days after.

By Revaz Bakhtadze, Civil Georgia

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