Posted by: Lister | September 10, 2008

Democracy in Georgia

Europe’s election watchdog, OSCE, has reported irregularities in the May 21st election in Georgia. Reuters :

Ballot-box stuffing, beatings of opposition activists, biased news coverage and government officials campaigning for President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party tainted Georgia’s parliamentary elections this year, Europe’s main election watchdog said on Tuesday.

[…] Its final report was significantly tougher than the monitors’ initial report, which described election day as calm and generally positive, although with some shortcomings.

Washington has defended Saakashvili’s government as an outpost of democracy against what it terms Russian bullying, while Moscow portrays Georgia’s leader as a warmongering tyrant.

[…] [The ODIHR] said there were “many significant shortcomings” in the counting of the vote, followed by “widespread and serious irregularities” in the way Georgian election authorities handled around 1,400 election-related complaints and appeals.

At least six opposition activists who were taking legal action against electoral irregularities were beaten, it added.

“In one severe case, a United Opposition candidate’s leg was broken by unknown attackers after his car was first forced to stop,” the report said.

[…] Two months before the election, Georgia changed the election code to allow the use of government resources for campaign purposes and to permit officials to mix campaigning with official duties, contravening Georgia’s OSCE commitments.

[…] [The ODIHR] cited the cases of opposition activists, particularly teachers, who were threatened with dismissal from their jobs unless they stopped campaigning.

[…] The main opposition television station Imedi, which was forced off the air after being stormed by riot police in November, resumed broadcasts but did not cover news or talk shows until after the election.

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