Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said the central government is ready for constructive cooperation with a newly-elected opposition Mayor of western Tsalenjikha Municipality.
Speaking at a government session on November 8, the Prime Minister said Gia Kharchilava, the only opposition mayor elected in October 2021 local elections, had “won deservedly.”
PM Garibashvili asserted that he would do the same treatment for Tsalenjikha Municipality and its population as he would do for other municipalities across the country, where the ruling Georgian Dream candidates claimed victory.
According to the official results, Gia Kharchilava of the United National Movement is the only opposition candidate claiming victory in local election runoffs on October 30. The ruling party candidates won all the remaining 63 municipalities (excluding those in the occupied regions).
The Prime Minister said ahead of the runoffs that the central government intended to finance “a lot of projects” and that the victory of opposition candidates would be “a barrier” and “less motivation” for implementing these projects. The statement was strongly criticized by the opposition and the EU Embassy to Tbilisi.
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To clarify his remarks, the Georgian Prime Minister noted today: “My remarks made during the election campaign caused some misunderstanding and I want to specify it today that we, the entire government, stand ready to cooperate with the opposition mayor as well.”
Gia Kharchilava narrowly won the mayoral runoff against the ruling party candidate, Goga Gulordava with 7,248 votes (51.096%) to 6,937 (49.904%).
The Tsalenjikha Municipality, located adjacent to occupied Abkhazia, includes two towns – Tsalenjikha and Jvari, as well as 48 villages. According to the 2014 census, 26,158 people live in the municipality. The Enguri Hydropower Plant (HPP), Georgia’s largest power plant, has its 271.5-meter-tall concrete arch dam located in the Municipality.