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Opposition Raises Alarms over ‘Election-Rigging’

“These elections were rigged,” announced Girchi – More Freedom leader Zurab Japaridze in an October 8 joint press conference with Saba Buadze of Lelo and Batu Kutelia of Droa parties.

The statement comes as the United National Movement lost its secured majority in Zugdidi Municipal Sakrebulo, after the town’s District Election Commission through recounts handed a win to Georgian Dream majoritarian hopeful Soso Gogokhia over UNM candidate Manuchar Pipia, the initial victor.

Japaridze claimed that October 2 local polls were held “in a much worse fashion” than the 2020 parliamentary elections. Pointing at “vote-buying, intimidation, blackmailing,” Japaridze said the opposition parties were “practically” unable to campaign in the regions.

Besides the pre-election environment allegations, Japaridze highlighted “disbalances” in summary protocols published on the Central Election Commission website, supposedly including in 27.5% of all proportional vote protocols across Georgia.

In 944 polling stations, the number of ballots cast was less than voters’ signatures, while in 85 precincts they were more, according to Japaridze.

Talking about the alleged discrepancies, Saba Buadze of Lelo stressed it is necessary to recount all the precincts where “disbalances” were observed, but added that District Election Commissions are “resisting” the relevant complaints filed by Lelo and other opposition parties.

He added the recounts would show that the opposition holds “significantly” more Sakrebulo mandates than as per current results.

Batu Kutelia of Droa, on his part, said the party has “substantial doubts” the alleged violations were “a well-organized scheme to for receiving results” which would allow the Georgian Dream to retain power at the municipal level.

“Even this falsification could not completely ensure a desirable outcome for Georgian Dream,” claimed Kutelia, adding that now the election commissions are trying to “amend or correct protocols” in precincts where Georgian Dream underperformed.

Earlier in the day, after opposition leaders’ meeting at the EU Embassy in Tbilisi, Badri Japaridze of Lelo said the party has demanded recounting an entire majoritarian district in Batumi, as well as the Saburtalo majoritarian district in Tbilisi. In the capital, the opposition has much more votes than in current results, MP Japaridze argued.

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