President Salome Zurabishvili has congratulated Georgians on local self-government „elections held peacefully despite unprecedented polarization and the use of hate speech.”
“Elections were held freely, and significantly improved results of the opposition is directly linked to the free expression of the will of voters,” Georgian President stated in her late evening press briefing on November 3.
Rebuffing the opposition’s claims that the outcome in several tight mayoral races were thwarted by “vote-rigging,” Salome Zurabishvili said narrow vote is characteristic for “democratic elections.”
She said however that “in reality, no one shall regard themselves as winners, because neither the country, nor the society is the winner.”
In her 13-minute speech, the Georgian President also said the country now needs stability and calming down “to return to the path to development.”
Noting that “destabilization only helps external forces,” the President noted de-polarization cannot be achieved through rallies, destabilization, constant calls for new elections or quitting and boycotting the Parliament.
Neither could this be achieved by refraining from recognizing the winners, or by humiliating those defeated, she added.
The announcement comes as multiple opposition parties, much of which have never recognized Zurabishvili’s election as President in 2018, reject October 30 local election runoff results and are holding rallies across the country in the run up to planned large-scale protest on November 6 in Tbilisi. Opposition also holds rallies outside prison in southern Rustavi town, demanding the release of jailed ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili.
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- Opposition Rejects Results, Vows Large-Scale Rally Saturday
President Zurabishvili also reiterated earlier “firm position” not to pardon former President Mikheil Saakashvili, who is into 34th day of hunger strike, and whose possible hospital treatment had triggered major controversy.
Salome Zurabishvili, Saakashvili’s ally-turned-foe, said the incarcerated former President is “neither political prisoner, nor innocent victim.”
But Saakashvili should be regarded as “a special prisoner,” which requires thorough attention and taking all measures from on part of authorities, so that his deteriorating health could not be used for “political speculation or destabilization,” President Zurabishvili said.
“This requires maximum transparency or timely reaction to any sings of his worsening [health],” she stressed, and vowed not to discuss the issue in the future.
Earlier today, President Zurabishvili held meetings with Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II, Justice Minister Rati Bregadze, as well as EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell, and Deputy Chief of U.S. Mission Rian Harker Harris.
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