Public Defender Echoes Incidents Occurring during Vote Counting

According to information provided by the Public Defender's election monitors, incidents occurred in some regions of Georgia during counting of votes in polling stations, as a result of which, some individuals were affected and property was damaged. Physical confrontation took place on the territory of Kutaisi’s No 90 polling station; some persons were affected. Unknown individuals broke into the 79th and 108th polling stations in the village of Jikhashkari, Zugdidi. Polling stations were vandalized, equipments were damaged, ballot boxes were broken, several people were affected, including local and international observers; a large number of supporters of the United National Movement and the Georgian Dream started to mobilize near the Marneuli district commission that includes danger that clashes may take between them. Ballots were brought to the yard of Marneuli district election commission from local polling stations that are under threat of being damaged. Supporters of the same parties are being mobilized near Batumi’s 1st polling station and there is danger of confrontation.

I appeal to the representatives of election entities and political parties to do everything to maintain peace; to urge their supporters to refrain from violence and not to forget that the state interests are more important than any political interest.

I appeal to the police: the state is responsible for the protection of safety of citizens of Georgia and all persons on the territory of Georgia; the police are obliged to ensure safety of every person, investigate each case of violence and bring offenders to justice. I call on the law enforcement agencies not to leave reports about any possible confrontation without attention, to respond immediately to any incident and take all possible preventive measures to avoid violence.

It should be noted that the Government has a primary responsibility for the conduct of peaceful elections. Ineffective response to the incidents of Zugdidi, Kortskheli and Didinedzi in the recent period may be one of the causes for the wave of violent acts that are taking place tonight. Similar information casts a shadow on the overall election process. Prevention of future, greater damage will be possible only if the law enforcement system manages to defuse tension at the very beginning and ensure adequate and fastest response to the occurring incidents.

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