08TBILISI42, TBILISI ELECTIONS UPDATE 01/11/2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI42 2008-01-11 17:24 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO0137
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0042/01 0111724
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 111724Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8597
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000042 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/11/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: TBILISI ELECTIONS UPDATE 01/11/2008 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  On January 9, the Central Election 
Commission (CEC) announced preliminary results of Georgia's 
Presidential election.  Mikheil Saakashvili won 52.21 
percent.  The nearest challenger, Levan Gachechiladze had 
25.26 percent.  On January 11, Irina Sarishvili, presidential 
candidate and leader of the opposition party Imedi (Hope), 
called on Ambassador Tefft.  They discussed the election 
results and NATO.  Labor party chairman and presidential 
candidate, Shalva Natelashvili, met us separately and asked 
for Embassy assistance in arranging meetings for a trip to 
Washington, D.C. on January 25.  The Ambassador advised both 
leaders that the Embassy believes ODIHR, ISFED, and other 
international observers' assessments of the elections are 
credible.  He said we are still waiting for answers from the 
CEC regarding Embassy observers' concerns.  United National 
Council of Opposition (UNC) members Kakha Kukava and Tina 
Khidasheli spoke live on the Georgian Public Broadcaster on 
January 10.  Kukava angrily denounced the CEC.  He also 
presented sealed envelopes and ballots which he claimed were 
thrown in the trash by the CEC without being counted. 
Gachechiladze and the UNC have called for a public protest on 
January 13, the day by which the final results of the 
election must be announced.  End Summary. 
 
CEC Announces Preliminary Results 
--------------------------------- 
 
2.  (U) On January 9, the Central Election Commission (CEC) 
announced preliminary results of Georgia's Presidential 
election.  Mikheil Saakashvili was leading with 52.21 
percent.  His nearest challenger, Levan Gachechiladze had 
25.26 percent.  On January 11, the CEC's website was showing 
Saakashvili with 53.38 percent of the vote. 
 
Sarishvili and Natelashvili Meet Ambassador 
------------------------------------------- 
 
3.  (C) On January 11, presidential candidate Irina 
Sarishvili called on Ambassador Tefft.  Sarishvili expressed 
concern regarding the results and conduct of the election. 
The Ambassador told her the Embassy believes ODIHR, ISFED, 
and other international observers' assessments of the 
elections are credible.  He said the parallel vote 
tabulations by ISFED met the highest standards.  He said no 
international observers have been able to identify systemic 
fraud in the election.  Furthermore, no opposition parties 
have yet produced concrete evidence of systemic fraud. 
Sarishvili also said she is concerned that Georgian 
membership in NATO could provoke a Russian backlash.  She 
said NATO bases in Georgia would only increase Russian 
pressure on Georgia and aggravate the issue of the separatist 
regions.  The Ambassador explicitly stated that USG policy 
has been consistent for years.  There are no plans for NATO 
bases in Georgia. 
 
4.  (C)  In a separate meeting, the Ambassador told 
Natelashvili the USG's position on the election.  He told 
both leaders that the Embassy is waiting for answers from the 
CEC to questions about the conduct of the elections. 
Natelashvili thanked the Ambassador for, as he sees it, 
helping ensure his personal security prior to the election. 
With an eye toward the coming Parliamentary elections, he 
then asked for help in arranging meetings for a planned trip 
to Washington, D.C. on January 25.  The Ambassador advised 
that we will contact the Desk for assistance. 
 
 
Opposition Lashes Out on Live TV, Plans Protests 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
5.  (U)  The Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) finally agreed 
to give the UNC access to live airtime on January 10.  UNC 
representatives Kakha Kukava and Tina Khidasheli denounced 
the CEC for ignoring election violations.  He presented 
sealed envelopes with ballots inside.  He claimed these 
ballots (from a Batumi precinct) were dumped in the trash 
without being opened and counted.  Kukava also criticized the 
international observers for only reporting the positive 
aspects of the election.  He said the opposition will start a 
"wave of protests" unless a re-count is ordered.  In a 
separate interview, UNC candidate Levan Gachechiladze 
demanded a second round of elections and called for his 
supporters to gather in protest on January 13 at Republican 
Square in Tbilisi. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
6.  (C) Poloffs have not yet received a response from the CEC 
 
TBILISI 00000042  002 OF 002 
 
 
regarding questions that we delivered on January 9.  We are 
waiting for a response before making a final decision as to 
what position to take on the fairness of the January 5 
election. 
TEFFT

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