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Some Watchdogs Snub Planned Voter List Commission
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 1 Oct.'11 / 14:55

Three watchdog groups have refused to be part of the planned commission in charge of verifying and compiling the voters list ahead of the next year’s parliamentary elections.
 
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED); Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) and Transparency International Georgia, the groups regularly monitoring electoral-related developments and elections in the country, say joining such commission would amount to taking responsibility for compiling the voters list – something they view as being far beyond their mandate.
 
According to the draft amendment to the election code, the voters list, approved by the planned state-funded commission, chaired by opposition representative, after rechecking process and submitted to the Central Election Commission, will “represent unified list of voters.” Setting up of the commission was part of an electoral system reform deal reached between the ruling party and some opposition parties in June.

Earlier this week Parliament passed this amendment with first reading. The Parliament, however, failed to pass the amendment with its second reading at the session on September 30 because of the absence of a quorum.

Discussions on the amendment in the Parliament grew mainly into a dispute between the small parliamentary minority group, led by Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) and other opposition lawmakers from newly formed faction, Unity for Justice, who are not part of the minority group in the Parliament.

The draft amendment is formally sponsored by CDM, which joined the electoral reform deal with the ruling party in June; those who refused to join the deal were pushing for drawing up the voter registry based on biometric identification system. Opposition parties, which have joined the deal, argue that setting up of a commission was the best possible compromise, otherwise the opposition would have been left empty-handed; they say that the commission will give opposition parties a possibility to have their say in drawing up the voters list.

The draft says that 21-member commission should be composed on the parity basis by representatives from the authorities, opposition parties and the civil society organizations – meaning that each of these three groups will have seven representatives in the commission. But as a sponsor of the draft, MP Levan Vepkhvadze of CDM, said he would be in favor of increasing seats in the commission to allow more stakeholders to join the commission. 

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