Upcoming municipal elections on June 15 are important as “we should get rid” of opposition UNM party from local self-governance bodies “once and for all” in every municipality, PM Irakli Garibashvili said, adding that just a few days are left until this formerly ruling party “disappears” from the political scene.
Speaking at an outdoor campaign rally of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition in Batumi on Monday evening, Garibashvili spent almost third of his half an hour long speech talking about UNM and issues related to UNM’s time in power.
Garibashvili said that while on campaign trail in provinces he was encountering numerous unresolved “elementary problems” such as supply of potable water and electricity in some villages. He then claimed that over USD 4 billion, which international donors allocated for Georgia after the August 2008 war, was misspent by the previous authorities including on building “palaces” and on “whims of one man”, referring to ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili.
“Elementary problems were not resolved and that is shameful,” the PM said. “That’s why the people delivered its verdict against the National Movement and removed them from government [as a result of the 2012 parliamentary elections].”
“And upcoming elections are important because together with you we should get rid of them [UNM] from [the local] authorities once and for all in every city, in every district and in every village,” Garibashvili said.
“They [UNM] still dare to mislead the people, but they do not know that the people won’t be deceived anymore,” he added.
There have been several violent incidents when UNM leaders and members were attacked in various parts of the country, including during campaign events. Garibashvili suggested that those “unpleasant” incidents were the result of “aggression” persisting among people against the previous authorities.
“Absolute majority of our population has a huge aggression against the previous authorities, but I want to ask you to keep your emotions and I promise you that the state will eradicate injustice, which has been instilled over the years, and we will respond it in accordance to the law and every criminal will be exemplary punished,” Garibashvili said.
In his speech Garibashvili specifically focused on one incident in which some UNM leaders, including Gigi Ugulava, confronted a local election administration official in Marneuli municipality of Kvemo Kartli region and said that the law enforcement agencies would react on that case immediately after the June 15 elections and “all the wrongdoers involved in this incident will be punished very strictly.”
He dismissed allegations about pressure on some opposition candidates, which were also reported by election observer organizations, as an attempt by UNM to undermine government’s image.
“We created all the conditions for holding upcoming elections in calm, transparent and democratic environment,” he said added that the only political force that cannot accept it is the UNM.
“They know that just a few days are left for them until they disappear once and for all from the political space in every city, every district and every village,” he said.
“They cannot engage in a healthy political competition; they know that the Georgian people has already delivered a verdict against them, but they are now trying to somehow undermine the image of our government and our country and are speaking of some kind of pressure and threats; they are doing it in order to draw attention of the international community, but of course they will fail,” Garibashvili said.
The U.S. embassy in Tbilisi said on June 8 that it is “increasingly concerned” over campaign incidents ahead of the elections. EU’s special adviser for legal reforms and human rights in Georgia, Thomas Hammarberg, has called on the authorities to launch a national campaign against violence and warned officials against trivializing cases of “hate crime”, including against politicians.
PM Garibashvili reiterated once again that he is confident the Georgian Dream “will gain convincing victory everywhere.”
“We will definitely win in every city, every district and village,” he said.
In his address in Batumi, the PM also told supporters that one of the main “demands” of the people towards the authorities is to “establish justice” and address misdeeds of previous authorities.
“Wherever I arrived everyone was demanding timely completion of investigations into high-profile cases. I want to promise you that all those cases will be brought to the end and every criminal will be punished in accordance to the law,” Garibashvili said and also stressed that this process should take place in line with the principles of rule of law.