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Opposition Elects Chair in Hung Rustavi Sakrebulo

The United National Movement backed ex-Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia’s For Georgia party today to elect its candidate Nodar Sherozia as the Chair of hung Sakrebulo in southern Rustavi, the fourth largest city in Georgia.

Sherozia, the only nominee, received all 18 votes cast by opposition councilors, while the Georgian Dream party members refused to participate in the election.

In the subsequent vote, the opposition councilors elected UNM’s Aleksandre Beridze and For Georgia’s Zaza Jaiani as the First Deputy Chair and Deputy Chair of the Council, respectively.

In the 35-member Sakrebulo, the GD and its arch-rival UNM each have 16 members, while For Georgia has three. The Council’s activities had been brought to a virtual halt after it failed to elect a chair in its first session on December 3.

“The Sakrebulo in Rustavi was in crisis and we are maximally trying to bring it out of the crisis,” the freshly-elected Chair told Info Rustavi, a local media outlet.

He denied having had any prior negotiations with other parties, and maintained that For Georgia would offer official positions –deputy chairs as well as heads of commissions– not only to UNM councilors but also to members of the ruling Georgian Dream to “share responsibility.”

The said offer comes as part of the stated policy of the ex-Prime Minister’s party to ensure “balance” between two of Georgia’s largest political outfits – UNM and GD.

But the ruling party has so far not taken up the proposal, refusing to nominate a candidate as the Deputy Chair in today’s session.

Rustavi Mayor Nino Latsabidze of the GD party after the Sakrebulo session slammed the UNM and For Georgia as “two parties that have formally merged into a single political body.”

She stressed that if the opposition-led Council fails to approve City Hall-initiated “topics tailored to the needs” of Rustavi residents down the line, it would only mean that “they are solely interested in narrow party interests and political sabotage.”

The Rustavi Sakrebulo has followed suit of the Tsalenjikha and Chkhorotsku Councils in Georgia’s western Samegrelo region, which have both elected For Georgia members as chairs with the opposition’s backing.

To date, in three other municipalities – in the hung Zugdidi, Senaki and Batumi Sakrebulos – the councilors still have not elected their respective chairs.

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