President of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Derek Mitchell, who was on his first visit to Georgia on February 24-26, stated that with the upcoming parliamentary elections in October, Georgia “has a chance to reaffirm its position as a democratic leader” in the region.
In a statement released on February 26, Derek Mitchell said NDI “will remain steadfast in its commitment to support Georgian democracy during this critical year, and for years to come,” and that “Georgia’s friends in the West, including NDI, will be closely following electoral preparations.”
Building public confidence in the process this year will require reaching timely and broad-based consensus on the country’s electoral system; respecting the rights of all candidates and parties to participate without fear of politicized prosecution; safeguarding the rights of civil society organizations to organize, operate and speak freely; empowering women to participate safely and equally; creating space for constructive engagement of youth; and avoiding political polarization that can degrade national unity and invite external illiberal influence,” he stated.
Stating that they will be observing the 2020 parliamentary elections, NDI said “its legitimacy depends on consensus-building toward credible elections and public confidence in the process.”
As part of his Georgia visit, Derek Mitchell met with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, President Salome Zurabishvili, Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze, other MPs and local self-government authorities, as well as heads of the ruling and opposition political parties, local civil society organizations, and representatives of the diplomatic corps.
“NDI collaborates closely with the governing party and parties in opposition alike, and favors none over any other. The Institute’s interest, as always, is in transparent, accountable and inclusive democratic processes, not particular electoral outcomes,” the statement stressed.