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The Daily Beat: 7 February

“One thing is clear that by this decision, the Georgian people were sentenced to walking a vicious circle and remaining a hostage of this situation,” President Salome Zurabishvili reacted to the decision of the Tbilisi City Court in the case of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili. In an official statement, Zurabishvili claimed that the “Saakashvili issue” overwhelmingly dominates the public agenda, discrediting the country and hindering the EU integration process. President urged Saakashvili to repent and stay away from Georgian politics once and for all.

In a surprise move, the Government withdrew the constitutional lawsuit against President Zurabishvili without any explanation. The case referred to the president’s refusal to appoint an ambassador to the United States in March 2022. The Government argued that the president exceeded her constitutional powers as she was entitled to purely symbolic functions while appointing new ambassadors.

According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), 90% of Georgian voters will vote electronically in the 2024 parliamentary elections. The main electoral body decided to upgrade the original target of 70%. CEC said such voting would be available at all polling stations of all self-governing cities and administrative centers of municipalities of self-governing communities, as well as in other areas where the number of registered voters exceeds 300 people. Election watchdog ISFED welcomed the decision.

The Government interviewed 38 and shortlisted three candidates to head the new-fangled anti-corruption bureau – Zurab Aznaurashvili, Razhden Kuprashvili, and Elguja Makalatia, all publicly unknown figures. PM Garibashvili is now to pick one for the appointment. The Government called for applications on December 23, 2022.

Following the Tbilisi City Court’s decision not to release former Mikheil Saakashvili, UNM said it would stop attending the Parliament’s sessions and was joined by the Strategy Aghmashenebeli party and independent MP Tamar Charkviani today. A modest but loud rally of UNM supporters was held at the government building, with the new UNM leader saying more is to come.

UN, EU, and the OSCE co-chairs of Geneva International Discussions (GID) visited Georgia for their traditional chat with government officials and diplomats. GID is a format designed to put a diplomatic end to the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia. With no deal in sight, GID has been freewheeling since, although it does provide a venue to discuss grievances and a framework for de-conflicting on the ground, known as Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRMs). Things turned for the worse after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sealed Moscow’s fate as an international pariah. The western parties have delayed the coming round in Geneva – some say to avoid an embarrassing coincidence with the anniversary of the Russian aggression on February 24. This irked the Kremlin, which refused to admit the group either in Moscow or its occupied Georgian territories. PM Garibashvili met the co-chairs and reportedly stressed Georgia’s commitment to peaceful conflict resolution.


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