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Saakashvili Asked to Explain his Choice of CEC Chair Candidates
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 18 Jan.'10 / 17:36

A group of non-governmental organizations requested President Saakashvili to explain reasons why he ignored a nomination by 27 NGOs for chairmanship of Central Election Commission and instead nominated three other candidates.

Eka Siradze, an executive director of election watchdog International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), was recommended jointly by 27 NGOs at a meeting with President Saakashvili on January 11. After the meeting President Saakashvili nominated three candidates – then acting CEC chairman Levan Tarkhnishvili (recommended by think-tank Liberty Institute); judge of Constitutional Court Otar Sichinava (recommended by New Generation-New Initiative) and a member of public broadcaster’s board of trustees Zurab Kharatishvili (recommended by ALPE Foundation).

After opposition members of CEC refused to support any of the President-nominated candidates, the Parliament elected Zurab Kharatishvili as the new chairman of CEC.

“While Georgian non-governmental organizations have positively evaluated the initiative on the part of the ruling party and of the President to agree on candidates for the chairmanship of CEC, there remain several questions among the twenty seven non-governmental organizations who participated in the selection of the joint candidate,” three NGOs said in an open letter to President Saakashvili on January 18.

The letter is signed by Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA); Multinational Georgia and Transparency International Georgia, which were among 27 NGOs recommending Eka Siradze for the post.

“Why did you decide to choose the three candidates that were nominated by single, non-governmental organizations and reject the candidate that twenty-seven non-governmental organizations supported?  Please, let us remind you that among these twenty-seven non-governmental organizations are those which are the most active in the area of election monitoring and improving electoral processes,” the open letter reads.

It also asks the President to specify reasons behind his decision to include former CEC chairman, Levan Tarkhnishvili, in the list of three candidates.

“His dismissal was one of the main demands of a large part of the opposition and… during your July 20, 2009 address to the Parliament of Georgia you said that the Central Election Commission chairman would be chosen on the basis of a broad consensus among the main political players,” the letter reads.

The three organizations also said that clarifying these issues “will have a positive impact on the attitudes” of Georgian and international communities toward the upcoming local elections, which “are seen within and outside Georgia as another democratic litmus test.”

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