A violent incident in the village of Kortskheli of Zugdidi municipality has “damaged significantly electoral environment,” chairperson of the Central Election Commission (CEC), Tamar Zhvania, said after polling stations closed in Sunday’s by-elections in number of single-mandate constituencies to fill vacant seats in local councils.
Some leaders and activists of the opposition UNM party were beaten by a group of supporters of the ruling GDDG party in a fistfight, which erupted outside a polling station in the village of Kortskheli in early Sunday afternoon.
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Along with Zugdidi’s Kortskheli single-member district, by-elections are held in eight other single-member districts in various localities across the country to fill vacant seats in respective local councils (Sakrebulo).
“All the polling stations were closed at 8pm and vote count is now underway,” CEC chairperson Tamar Zhvania said. “But the incident in Kortskheli has caused a significant damage to the electoral environment. I hope that investigation, which is now underway, will be completed soon and perpetrators will be punished – it should become an example to prevent [reoccurrence of such incidents]. There is no place for violence in the electoral process.”
In other localities where by-elections were also held on Sunday, the voting process was held in calm conditions, she said.
The ruling GDDG party had candidates in all nine constituencies and UNM fielded candidates in four.
Along with GDDG and UNM candidates, a nominee from Free Georgia party was also running in Zugdidi’s Kortskheli district, which has less than 2,000 voters.
By-election was also held in one of the boroughs of Tbilisi’s Gldani district to fill the vacant seat in the capital city’s Sakrebulo, where candidates from GDDG, Free Georgia and People’s Government parties were running. There are slightly over 34,000 eligible voters in this borough of the Gldani district.
Two seats are for grabs in Gardabani Sakrebulo in Kvemo Kartli region. Candidates from GDDG, Free Georgia and People’s Government candidates were running in one of the districts and there were only two candidates – from GDDG and from Free Georgia, in another district of Gardabani. There are about 7,100 eligible voters in those two areas of Gardabani municipality.
Candidates from GDDG, UNM and People’s Government parties were running for local Sakrebulo seat in Kaspi municipality in Shida Kartli region. There are over 2,600 voters in the village of Metekhi of Kaspi municipality where by-elections are held on Sunday.
GDDG, UNM and Free Democrats were contesting for a vacant seat in Tskaltubo’s Sakrebulo in the Imereti region. There are about 3,480 voters in this district.
GDDG’s candidate competed with an independent candidate in one of the districts of town of Ozurgeti, where 2,600 voters are registered.
GDDG candidate faced UNM’s candidate in other district of the Ozurgeti municipality, which has over 2,000 eligible voters.
GDDG’s nominee was the only candidate running for a seat in Khobi Sakrebulo in Samegrelo region; there are only 244 voters in the village of Kulevi of Khobi municipality where by-elections are held.
Early results of the vote are expected either for late Sunday or early Monday.