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OSCE Issues Second Interim Report on Election Campaign

The presidential election campaign environment “has been soured” by allegations of the misuse of administrative resources by incumbent candidate Mikheil Saakashvili, unequal campaign conditions, intimidation and vote buying, the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission said in its second interim report.

“The OSCE/ODIHR EOM has received information and first-hand accounts, which indicate that some of these claims are credible,” it said in the report covering the period between December 14 and December 24.

The report, in particular, cites the distribution of vouchers for electricity, natural gas and medical supplies to pensioners and other vulnerable groups. Although the authorities continue to maintain that the vouchers were planned before the election was called, the report said, “there is evidence to suggest that the distribution has been used for campaign purposes, blurring the separation between state activities and a candidate’s election campaign.”

Healthcare vouchers for pensioners, as well as the state-funded temporary employment program leaflets, feature the number 5 – Mikheil Saakashvili’s number on the ballot paper.

The report also notes widespread allegations by the opposition candidates, mainly voiced by the nine-party coalition and its candidate, Levan Gachechiladze, that they have had problems in renting campaign offices, allegedly due to pressure on landlords not to let the premises.

“The landlord of the UPM’s [United Public Movement, or nine-party opposition coalition] office in Kareli [in the Shida Kartli region] told the [OSCE/ODIHR EOM] how he and his family were threatened with arrest if he continued to let the office,” the report reads.


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