07TBILISI3037, OPPOSITION PARTIES QUICK TO PRE-JUDGE ELECTIONS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI3037 2007-12-06 13:55 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5394
RR RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #3037/01 3401355
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 061355Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8380
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 003037 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/CARC, EUR/FO AND DRL 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/05/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION PARTIES QUICK TO PRE-JUDGE ELECTIONS 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, reason 1.4(b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary: The government is concerned that the 
opposition will not accept any outcome of the January 5 
elections that returns former President Mikheil Saakashvili 
to office, and that the opposition will take to the streets 
again on January 6.  The ruling National Movement's polls 
suggQt Saakashvili may win in the first round of the 
election.  However, opposition candidates insist Saakashvili 
has no chance to win at all, and any win will have to be the 
result of unfair tactics and intimidation of voters.  They 
allege intimidation and other tactics on the part of the 
National Movement that they believe will make a fair election 
impossible.  Difficulties in arranging independent interim 
polling and exit polling may make it even harder for the 
parties to accept an outcome that differs from their 
previously conceived expectations.  The government is 
welcoming hundreds of election monitors as its best chance to 
demonstrate the election is actually free and fair.  We are 
reminding both sides of the importance of abiding by the 
outcome of elections that are judged free and fair by ODIHR 
and other election monitors.  End Summary. 
 
2. (C)  Acting President Burjanadze has expressed publicly 
and also privately to the Ambassador her concern that the 
opposition is already laying the groundwork to contest the 
legitimacy of any election in which Saakashvili is the 
winner.  Both Burjanadze and Saakashvili have pledged that 
the January 5 presidential election will be free and fair, 
and that all candidates will have an equal chance to 
campaign.  In separate meetings with the Ambassador on 
December 4 both Burjanadze and National Movement MP Giga 
Bokeria complained that the opposition is trying to create a 
"climate of fraud" for the local and international community, 
by repeating the idea over and over and emphasizing every 
report of intimidation or pressure. 
 
3. (C)  A recent poll conducted by BCG, a company run by 
Central Election Commission Chairman Levan Tarkhnishvili's 
wife, Ani Tarkhnishvili, interviewed 10,000 people and found 
71 percent would vote in the elections and 54 percent would 
vote for Saakashvili.  Bokeria insists the poll is accurate, 
in spite of suspicions raised by the opposition about the 
relationship between its owner, the CEC and the National 
Movement.  They say that opposition candidates do not have 
serious support or organizations outside Tbilisi, except in 
Adjara.  Saakashvili is weakest in Adjara and Tbilisi, but he 
enjoys substantial support in Imereti and Samegrelo, 
according to the National Movement.  Overall, says Bokeria, 
Saakashvili has enough support to achieve a first round 
victory on January 5. 
 
4. (C)  In early televised interviews, united opposition 
presidential candidate Levan Gachechiladze has been 
argumentative with reporters and raised perceptions that he 
is not presidential, possibly costing him votes in an 
election where the key issue is the candidates' perceived 
ability to rule this very fractious country.  At the same 
time, he is saying that Saakashvili has no chance of winning. 
 There have been some unscientific polls, such as one 
published by the newspaper Kviris Palitra based on its 
readership's vote, that show Gachechiladze in a dead heat 
with Saakashvili.  Otherwise Gachechiladze and the other 
candidates have not revealed any professional polling results 
that would support claims that they are close to defeating 
Saakashvili.  Other candidates are no less shy about 
predicting the election outcome.  Davit Gamkrelidze of the 
New Rightists party said in an interview on December 4 that 
"Saakashvili is already defeated".  Kakha Kukava of the 
Conservative Party is quoted as saying that if Gachechiladze 
does not win, the opposition will prove the illegitimacy of 
President Saakashvili to the whole world.  Presidential 
candidate Gia Maisashvili has openly called for civil 
disobedience after January 5 if Saakashvili wins, as have 
members of the Equality Institute, an NGO associated with the 
united opposition. 
 
5. (C)  For their paQ, opposition politicians are sure the 
government is stacking the deck against them and they 
complain of an atmosphere of intimidation.  There have been 
allegations of attacks on opposition activists and 
headquarters in Tskaltubo, Batumi and elsewhere.  The 
National Movement has been accused of using government 
pressure to extort campaign contributions and expressions of 
support, and of collecting ID cards to create votes.  Acting 
President Burjanadze and National Movement Secretary General, 
David Kirkitadze, have attributed these reports to actions by 
overzealous party operatives and pledged to curb such 
behavior.  The opposition objects to Saakashvili's use of 
cars, airplanes and other state "administrative resources" in 
the course of his campaigning, to which they naturally do not 
 
TBILISI 00003037  002 OF 002 
 
 
have equal access.  Saakashvili's National Movement spokesman 
claims they are paying for those state resources.  The 
government is also taki
ng steps that are only in its power to 
gain voters' favor, such as a temporary employment program 
that is touted to provide up to 100,000 jobs. 
 
6. (C)  Imedi remains closed at this time, but will soon 
re-open.  Equal time rules are about to go into effect, when 
the qualified candidates are confirmed by the CEC on December 
6.  According to the Embassy's news watchers, opposition 
candidates are already well represented on television news 
programs.  Pro-Saakashvili advertisements are beginning to be 
seen, and this is an area where the incumbent's well-heeled 
campaign may have a significant advantage.  In Tbilisi, one 
station that clearly supports the opposition, Kavkasia, is 
operating, and when Imedi comes back on the air, its coverage 
will inevitably extend an anti-Saakashvili message across 
Georgia.  Both the Georgian Media Council and independent 
observation by Adam Michnik (the latter specifically invited 
because of the Imedi situation) are in place to help ensure 
that media excesses are exposed in a timely manner. 
 
7. (C)  The government has backed up its promise that 
elections will be free and fair by inviting the international 
community to send as many election monitors as it can muster 
to observe the polls on January 5 and the election campaign 
beforehand.  A large number of trained election monitors will 
give some assurance of fairness and deter election-day 
shenanigans.  A parallel vote count is planned.  However, it 
is hard to say how accurate either side's current predictions 
of the election outcome may be or what the impact of any 
intimidation or other pre-election unfairness may be.  We are 
pointedly reminding all the parties that they must abide by 
the outcome of elections that are found to be free and fair 
by impartial election observers. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

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