A chairman of District Election Commission (DEC) in Marneuli of Shida Kartli region was confronted by opposition UNM party leaders, who tried in vain to prevent him from barring UNM candidate Akmamed Imamquliyev from running as a candidate for the post of head (gamgebeli) of Marneuli municipality.
Chairman of Marneuli DEC, Koba Asanidze, canceled Imamquliyev’s registration citing candidate’s failure to meet two-year residency term.
UNM activists were gathered outside the Marneuli DEC and some UNM leaders and senior lawmakers were inside DEC chairman’s office trying to dissuade him from canceling candidate’s registration.
Gigi Ugulava, who is UNM’s chief of election campaign, was shouting at chairman of DEC: “I promise you that you will regret this decision very much.”
“Do you want to make a gift to [PM Irakli] Garibashvili? What are you doing? Aren’t you ashamed?” Ugulava was telling local election administration chief.
Arguing that DEC chair was only authorized to sign the decision before the end of the working day at 6pm, UNM activists and leaders were trying to prevent DEC chair from signing decision before this presumed deadline. “We don’t allow you to violate the law,” Ugulava said, tearing protocol into pieces.
UNM said that residency requirement was just a pretext for blocking its candidate from the race, claiming that Imamquliyev is a frontrunner in the race in Marneuli.
“Garibashvili’s threat that he will not allow victory of any candidate other than those of Georgian Dream is now in action,” UNM MP Khatuna Gogorishvili said.
Imamquliyev denied that he’s failing to meet residency requirement and said that he was occasionally leaving the country because of business trips abroad.
UNM will appeal decision to the Central Election Commission (CEC) and if the latter upholds the ruling, it then can be appealed to the court.
CEC condemned UNM’s actions at the Marneuli DEC as “blatant interference” in the activities of the election administration. Such actions are “inadmissible,” CEC said in its statement.
CEC has called on the political parties “not to take actions containing signs of pressure on the elections administration and to act solely in legal framework.”
Georgian Dream ruling coalition has also condemned UNM’s actions as “pressure” on the election administration.
“This action will not be left without reaction,” GD said in a statement, which calls on the reverent authorities to assess the case adequately.
“Instead of entering into political competition and receive the verdict from the Georgian people, the United National Movement is talking to the election administration with its usual threatening tone,” GD said.