The Statement on the United National Movement Leaving the Inter-Agency Task Force
Hereby, we would like to express our position on the developments during the meeting of the Inter-agency Task Force or Free and Fair Elections (IATF) on October 11, 2013 when the United National Movement made a decision on leaving the commission. As participants of the meeting who have witnessed the developments we confirm that there was a verbal altercation between UNM member and the chairwoman of the IATF, during which MP Tinatin Bokuchava accused the latter of trying to “destroy” the United National Movement while the Minister of Justice responded that they had already done it successfully.
Regrettably, this is not the first case such unconstructive dialogue took place during the IATF meeting; rather, unconstructive comments have been made towards not only with the United National Movement but towards other participants as well reporting election campaign related violations. It is our strong belief that the format of the IATF is vital for the pre-election period, as it allows political parties and election monitoring organizations to state key issues of election period before the task force and to submit information about alleged violations during the pre-election period.
Based on these reports the IATF issues recommendations that must be abided by for the conduct of free elections in Georgia. The IATF operating under the Ministry of Justice, has elaborated several crucial recommendations; in multiple cases issues were discussed thoroughly and participants of sessions were given appropriate time to express their position, which we welcome; however, regrettably instead of constructive discussion of pre-election problems the IATF sessions often became a venue for political debates.
We consider that unconstructive atmosphere during IATF meetings is detrimental to the effectiveness of its operations and public trust. We understand difficulty of reviewing certain issues outside the political context during the IATF meetings where participants include political party proxies; yet the Minister of Justice, as the head of the commission who also serves as a facilitator of the session, has greater obligation to tolerate. With only two weeks remaining before presidential elections and in light of the active election campaign, it is vital for all stakeholders parties to go back to the working mode for which the conflict must be immediately resolved. The UNM should resume its participation in the IATF and the chairwoman should ensure that meetings are held in a constructive environment.
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association
Transparency International Georgia