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GD Member Elected as Batumi Sakrebulo Chair

The Batumi City Council (Sakrebulo) appointed today Georgian Dream member Ramaz Jincharadze as its chair, after a rare deal between the ruling party and the United National Movement paved the way for lifting a nearly six-month-long deadlock.

Jincharadze gained the support of the 17 GD councilors and Irakli Tavdgiridze, a member of ex-Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia’s For Georgia party who went independent.

Out of the UNM, FG and Lelo councilors — 17 in total — only Akaki Gvianidze of the ex-PM’s party attended the session, but he did not partake in the vote.

Jincharadze, recently elected as a councilor in the majoritarian by-elections of April 2022, today criticized the opposition’s continued absence. In remarks to the press, he argued the councilors are obliged to enter the Sakrebulo and serve the people who gave them their mandates.

As for possible cooperation with the opposition, the Sakrebulo Chair said “we will consider and welcome any rational opinions, because we must all love and serve Batumi equally.”

Following Jincharadze’s appointment, the Batumi councilors endorsed FG-turned-independent member Tavdgiridze as the First Deputy Chair, and GD members Natalia Zoidze and Zurab Nakaidze as Deputy Chairs. The councilors also elected chairs of the Sakrebulo Commissions.

In a briefing ahead of the session, United National Movement’s Lasha Kilaberia expressed regrets over his party colleagues “unfortunately” backing the legislative amendments that made lifting the deadlock possible.

He said the party would not attend today’s session as it merely served for the Sakrebulo members to allocate positions among themselves, but would join the Council’s work in subsequent sittings.

Before the GD and UNM jointly endorsed the changes in the Parliament, Jincharadze was unable to take his Sakrebulo mandate, as he needed to have his credentials endorsed by a majority of the Council, which the GD and Tavdgiridze fell one vote short of.

The opposition had boycotted the Sakrebulo sessions following the by-elections of April, a vote marred by allegations of foul play.

Following the changes, Jincharadze had his credentials automatically endorsed based on a final summary protocol of the vote published by the Central Election Commission, paving the way for the Councilor to take up his mandate and be subsequently endorsed as the Chair.

Lelo Member Quits

At the beginning of today’s session, the Lelo party’s sole member Irakli Kupradze rejected his mandate and quit Sakrebulo.

“In the local elections, we faced violence, pressure, threats and a severe process that damaged the democracy, electoral process and the freedom of the citizens in the country,” Kupradze told reporters afterward, adding “I cannot see myself [working] in this convocation of the Sakrebulo.”

Vazha Darchia, next in line on the Lelo party’s list is supposed to take Kupradze’s seat.

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