Zurab Abashidze, who is member of Irakli Alasania’s party Our Georgia – Free Democrats, participated in a meeting of inter-party working group designed to amend the election code.
The group was established in March with the facilitation of U.S. National Democratic Institute – less than a month before a group of non-parliamentary opposition parties launched street protest rallies. At the time that group of opposition parties, including Alasania’s team, snubbed the offer to join the electoral working group.
“We came here [at the meeting] to hear how things go in this group, what are the positions of representatives [of other parties]. Afterwards, we will express our opinions,” Zurab Abashidze told journalists before the meeting, adding that his party had its proposals about the election code.
A representative from Traditionalist Party, which until now was not taking part in the working group, also attended the meeting for the first time on September 3.
MP Akaki Minashvili, who represents the ruling party in the working group, welcomed “joining of new members” to the group.
“By the end of this year we should have a new election code so that to hold local elections by next spring,” Minashvili said.
President Saakashvili offered to hold local elections, including direct election of Tbilisi mayor on May 30, 2010.
Meanwhile, Mamuka Katsitadze of the New Rights party, part of Alliance for Georgia along with Alasania’s party and Republicans, said that “changing of election environment has no alternative” and “it should be done in a working atmosphere around a table.”
He said that opposition parties were working over proposals on how the election code should be improved. He, however, also added that “we have not established common opposition vision so far on the matter.”
Eka Beselia of the Movement for United Georgia opposition party, which does not participate in the electoral working group, said proposals on improving the election code would be sent to the working group.
“If there is a political will to take into consideration all those major principles and changes, which are essential for holding free and democratic elections, it will be really great,” she said on September 3.