08TBILISI51, TBILISI ELECTIONS UPDATE 01/14/2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI51 2008-01-14 15:08 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1496
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0051/01 0141508
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 141508Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8606
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000051 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/14/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: TBILISI ELECTIONS UPDATE 01/14/2008 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary:  Early January 13, the Central Election 
Commission (CEC) announced final results of Georgia's 
Presidential election.  Mikheil Saakashvili won 53.4 percent 
of the votes.  Levan Gachechiladze had 25.67 percent.  The 
CEC denied nearly all of the election complaints filed by the 
opposition and GYLA as "groundless or procedurally 
incorrect."  The results of 8 precincts have been annulled. 
Approximately 30,000 Tbilisians protested peacefully against 
the election results and CEC on the afternoon of January 13. 
Themes of anti-Americanism and direct criticism of DAS Bryza, 
based on a distorted television report of Bryza's remarks, 
were voiced before the crowd.  Acting President Burjanadze 
told Ambassador Tefft and ODIHR representatives on January 14 
that the GOG plans to create a taskforce to address this 
election's shortcomings.  She said Parliamentary elections 
will take place between April 10 and the end of May.  On 
January 14, opposition leaders Kakha Kukava, Salome 
Zourabichvili, and Koba Davitashvili told the Ambassador that 
they will continue their appeal of complaints to the courts. 
Finally, newspapers are speculating about Mikheil 
Saakashvili's new cabinet members after he resumes office. 
End Summary. 
 
CEC Announces Final Results, Denies Complaints 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
2. (U) Early January 13, the Central Election Commission 
(CEC) announced final results of Georgia's Presidential 
election.  Mikheil Saakashvili won 53.4 percent of the votes. 
 Levan Gachechiladze had 25.67 percent. 
 
3. (C) The CEC denied nearly all of the election complaints 
filed by either the opposition or Georgian Young Lawyers 
Association (GYLA) as "groundless or procedurally incorrect." 
 Government watchdog GYLA's chairman, Giorgi Chkheidze, told 
poloff that his organization filed approximately 230 formal 
complaints at the District Election Commission level.  Only 
one complaint, in Kutaisi, was considered on its merit.  GYLA 
appealed the 30 most serious remaining complaints to the CEC. 
 
 
4. (C) In response to these complaints, the CEC delivered 
2-line statements denying them as "groundless" or 
"procedurally incorrect."  The CEC said that "those filing 
complaints should know how to do so properly."  GYLA asked 
the CEC to at least acknowledge their information regarding 
election violations and look into them itself.  The CEC 
refused to accept any of GYLA's information regarding 
election violations.  The CEC denied GYLA's complaints on a 
party-line vote of 7 to 6. 
 
5. (C) GYLA's sole remaining option was to appeal to the 
courts.  Of their multiple complaints, the courts dismissed 
all except one, again due to "procedural errors."  One final 
complaint remained before Tbilisi City Court on January 13. 
However, the CEC still finalized the election results. 
 
Opposition Protests, America Takes Heat 
--------------------------------------- 
 
6. (C) In response to the CEC's refusal to review their 
complaints regarding election violations, the United National 
Council of Opposition called for renewed street protests on 
January 13 at 3:00 p.m.  Approximately 30,000 Tbilisians 
filled the former Republican Square.  (Note: Embassy 
estimates varied significantly.  Most observers estimate at 
least 30,000 people.  The crowd included many women, and 
tended to be slightly older.  End note.)  Several speakers 
directly criticized DAS Bryza for "approving the elections" 
early.  This was apparently based on a distorted report on 
Rustavi television of DAS Bryza's standard reiteration of 
U.S. policy.  Two posters were observed with Bryza's picture 
and slogans saying "No to Bryza's Democracy."  One 
unidentified speaker also spoke at length against "Americans 
supporting Saakashvili rather than democracy in Georgia." 
 
Burjanadze Meets Diplomatic Corps 
--------------------------------- 
 
7. (SBU) Acting President Burjanadze told members of the 
diplomatic corps on January 14 that the GOG plans to create a 
taskforce to address this election's shortcomings.  This was 
a direct result of the Embassy's and ODIHR's criticisms of 
problems in the presidential election's administration, vote 
counting, and complaint processes.  She said Parliamentary 
elections will take place between April 10 and the end of 
May.  The taskforce will focus on: 1) fixing the observed 
problems before the next election, 2) fixing and 
strengthening the CEC, 3) fixing and strengthening the 
 
TBILISI 00000051  002 OF 002 
 
 
media's independence and responsibility, and 4) training 
Precinct Election Commission officials. 
 
Opposition Meets Ambassador, Vows to Continue Protests 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
8. (C) UNC leaders MP Kakha Kukava, Salome Zourabichvili, and 
Koba Davitashvili met the Ambassador on January 14.  They 
advised hi
m that they will continue their appeal of 
complaints in the courts.  They plan to also continue their 
peaceful street protests, including over the coming weekend 
while the inauguration ceremony is planned.  The Ambassador 
advised them that President Bush has called Saakashvili and 
congratulated him as the winner of the election.  The 
Ambassador also confirmed that DAS Bryza will meet the 
opposition on January 18.  He strongly suggested that the 
opposition look ahead to parliamentary elections and 
strategize toward that now. 
 
Saakashvili to Re-shuffle Cabinet Again? 
---------------------------------------- 
 
9. (U) Newspapers were rife with speculation about 
Saakashvili's new cabinet once he resumes office as 
President.  Some reports suggest that David Bakradze will 
become Foreign Minister, with MP Giga Bokeria joining him as 
his deputy.  The same reports suggested current Foreign 
Minister Gela Bezhuashvili could become Chairman of the 
National Security Council. 
TEFFT

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