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U.S. Embassy: ISFED’s Exclusion Contradicts European Commission’s Recommendations

The U.S. Embassy asserted in a 19 August statement that the exclusion of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), one of Georgia’s “most trusted and experienced election observation organizations,” from the Parliamentary working group on electoral reforms “directly contradicts” the European Commission’s 12 recommendations for Georgia to involve civil society in decision-making processes.

 The Embassy’s statement was preceded by the ruling Georgian Dream party’s decision on 18 August not to invite ISFED to the first meeting of the electoral reforms working group meant to develop the legislative changes necessary for EU candidate status.

That decision was criticized by both the civil society sector and the opposition. Among them, the CSO Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), which was invited to participate, left the meeting in protest. The ruling party claimed that its decision was based on the fact that ISFED had lost its “neutrality.”

“Civil society organizations serve as the voice of the people on a range of issues and play a vital role in ensuring that citizens’ needs, priorities, and preferences are addressed,” the U.S. Embassy emphasized. “ISFED’S exclusion raises questions about the sincerity of Parliament’s electoral reform process.”

The Embassy also highlighted that ISFED was selected by its peer organizations to represent CSOs at the working group because of its “expertise, professionalism, and long experience with election reform.”

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