Public Defender’s Statement on Zugdidi Election Processes

The Public Defender of Georgia actively follows the pre-election processes and expresses concern about the extremely tense situation in the city of Zugdidi.

Conducting elections in a free, equal and peaceful environment is a crucial principle of a democratic and legal state. Reports[1][2] have been spread in recent days about various violent incidents, confrontation between the parties, interference in journalistic activities, influence on citizens' will and alleged bribery of voters, which directly affect the conduct of elections in a calm environment. The Public Defender calls on the law enforcement agencies to carry out objective, timely, effective and proper investigation into each violations committed during the election period and to timely inform the public of the consequences of the investigation.

According to the information disseminated by the observation organizations[3], various political parties plan to mobilize supporters in Zugdidi on May 19, which increases the risks of escalation of situation. It is crucial that all parties involved in the electoral process facilitate conduct of elections in a peaceful and safe environment, including prevention of violent incidents and conduct of pluralist and violence-free electoral processes. At the same time, the Public Defender hopes that the election administration will ensure impartial and effective fulfillment of obligations on the one hand and will not interfere with the activities of the administration on the other hand.

The Public Defender will closely monitor the progress of the midterm elections on May 19 and expresses hope that the responsible agencies will be able to ensure conduct of peaceful elections by taking timely preventive measures and effectively responding to violations. Together with other important aspects, it is inadmissible that the citizens' safety and expression of free will be endangered during the electoral process.

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