President Saakashvili has welcomed his party’s four-point declaration calling on parties to agree on code of conduct ahead of the October parliamentary elections.
“We deem United National Movement’s initiative important. This initiative sets rules of the play and offers equal conditions for all the political parties during the entire electoral period. We welcome that absolute majority of political parties expressed readiness to join this initiative,” President Saakashvili’s spokesperson, Manana Manjgaladze, said on July 17.
Some political parties, including Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) and New Rights have said they would join the declaration.
Bidzina Ivanishvili-led Georgian Dream opposition coalition said on July 16, that although an idea itself to have such a declaration was acceptable, the process of elaboration of such a document should be all-inclusive with participation of other political parties and civil society representatives. A spokesperson for the Georgian Dream coalition, Maia Panjikidze, said on July 16, that a group of civil society representatives had already been working on elaboration of such document and ruling party’s July 14 announcement was an attempt to hijack the process.
A coalition of election observer and watchdog organizations, This Affects You Too, said on July 16, that an agreement on key principles between political parties to secure peaceful and fair electoral process ahead of the October parliamentary polls was important, especially in currently existing polarized environment, but four-point declaration, put forth by the ruling party, was “not sufficient and enough for the genuine recovery of the process.” In its July 16 statement, the group laid out those seventeen principles, which it thinks, should be included to such a code of conduct ahead of the elections.
The ruling party rejected the Georgian Dream’s allegation about attempting to hijack the process of developing joint declaration as totally groundless, saying that the process is open. A senior ruling party lawmaker, Akaki Minashvili, however, also suggested that the Georgian Dream’s reservations about the declaration amounted to refusal to join it and an attempt to drag out the process. He also said that the position of This Affects You Too coalition was also contributing, at least unwittingly, to dragging out the process. He also complained that the statement of This Affects You Too did not mention two issues, which are laid out in the ruling party’s four-point declaration; these are: rejecting hate speech and a commitment by the parties to recognize election results, “summarized by the Central Election Commission and deemed legitimate by observer organizations with credible reputation.”