08TBILISI76, TBILISI ELECTIONS UPDATE 01/17/2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI76 2008-01-17 15:01 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5057
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0076/01 0171501
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 171501Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8632
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000076 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/17/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: TBILISI ELECTIONS UPDATE 01/17/2008 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary:  An OSCE Technical Working Group on Elections 
(TWG) met on January 17 and considered post-election 
processes by the Central Election Commission and courts.  The 
CEC's and courts quick denial of observers' complaints 
regarding election-day violations and post-election counting 
processes ranked among the most serious problems.  The 
Prosecutor General's office is prosecuting two individuals 
for ballot stuffing in Gori and Telavi.  (Details will follow 
septel.)  Speculation abounds about pending changes in the 
government after Saakashvili's inauguration on January 20. 
Many key ministries are expected to change.  Tbilisi City 
Court has rejected four separate appeals against the final 
election results filed by three opposition parties and the 
Professional Teachers' Union.  On January 17, the United 
National Council of Opposition (UNC) publicly said "it would 
not recognize Mikheil Saakashvili as a legitimate president 
and would not cooperate with him."  The  UNC has called for a 
large-scale protest on January 20 at the same time as the 
inauguration.  End Summary. 
 
2. (C) One of the most serious shortfalls of Georgia's 
election process has been in its handling of observers' 
complaints regarding election-day violations and 
post-election counting processes.  Neither Georgia's Central 
Election Commission (CEC) nor courts have adequately 
acknowledged the problems that legitimate observers have 
pointed out.  Local NGOs ISFED and GYLA told the OSCE TWG 
members that of several hundred formal complaints, most were 
dismissed on technicalities.  CEC Chairman Levan 
Tarkhnishvili acknowledged there were problems and stated 
that the CEC did in fact review complaints and handled them 
appropriately.  (Comment: Whether caused by intentional 
ambivalence or a lack of administrative capacity, this 
shortcoming is a serious flaw in Georgia's electoral system 
and must be corrected before coming parliamentary elections. 
End comment.) 
 
3. (U)  The Prosecutor General's office is prosecuting two 
individuals for ballot stuffing in Gori and Telavi.  These 
are the first prosecutions for election code violations in 
Georgia's history.  (Details will follow septel.) 
 
4. (U) Speculation abounds about pending changes in the 
government after Saakashvili's inauguration on January 20. 
Media reports suggest that Culture Minister Gabashvili, 
Economic Development Minister Giorgi Arveladze, Environment 
Minister Davit Chantladze, as well as most regional governors 
will be dismissed.  State Minister for Conflict Settlement 
Davit Bakradze is rumored to replace Gela Bezhuashvili as 
Foreign Minister, and Bezhuashvili would then return to the 
National Security Council as Secretary.  Current NSC 
Secretary Lomaia would reportedly become Ambassador to the 
 
SIPDIS 
USA.  Some state minister positions will be abolished, six 
Deputy Prime Minister positions will be created, and the 
Interior Ministry will be split into separate security and 
law enforcement bodies.  Changes are also rumored to come to 
the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, as well as merging 
the Energy Ministry with the Ministry of Economic Development. 
 
5. (U) Three opposition parties and the Professional 
Teachers' Union filed appeals to the Tbilisi City Court to 
invalidate the final election results.  The court considered 
all four appeals together, and struck them down without 
merit.  The decision was appealed to the Supreme Court, which 
is due to rule by January 18. 
 
6. (U) On January 17 the UNC released a public statement with 
demands to Parliament.  Salome Zourabichvili read out the 
group's demands.  The statement said the group "refuses to 
negotiate with Saakashvili but is ready to negotiate with the 
legislative body and Speaker (and Acting President) Nino 
Burjanadze.  The group calls for Parliament to immediately 
stop "all forms of political persecution" against 
Saakashvili's political opponents.  They also demanded an end 
to all forms of "illegal phone tapping and intimidation." 
They called for parity in the election administration at all 
levels from the CEC on down to the precincts.  They also 
called for parity on the board of trustees for the Georgian 
Public Broadcaster.  The group said these demands must be met 
in order to "resume public trust in the elections and restore 
civil unity after the parliamentary elections."  Finally, the 
group said these demands must be met with "relevant changes 
to promote an independent judiciary, increase Parliament's 
role, and promote freedom of business." 
 
7. (U) The UNC had called for a large street protest on 
January 20 at the same time as the inauguration.  Tbilisi 
City Hall rejected the opposition's request to hold the 
protest in either Republican Square or Rike Park, as both 
 
TBILISI 00000076  002 OF 002 
 
 
spaces will be used for staging during the presidential 
inauguration ceremonies.  The protest wil
l take place at the 
Tbilisi Hippodrome, which is farther away from the 
inauguration at Parliament on Rustaveli Avenue. 
TEFFT

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