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Georgia’s embattled election head resigns

30 June 2021
Tamar Zhvania. Image via CEC.

The Chair of Georgia’s Central Election Commission, Tamar Zhvania, has resigned citing her wish to facilitate a new political consensus ahead of October local elections.

‘Although, by law, I could have continued working at the administration for more than two years, I believe that the election regulations adopted on the grounds of [EU President] Charles Michel’s Agreement has brought new realities’, Zhvania said on Wednesday.

Zhvania’s resignation has been among the primary demands by the opposition ahead of new elections.

‘Accordingly, electing the head of the CEC under new regulations will be an additional factor for wide political agreement’, Zhvania said.

‘I am certain that my decision will increase a possibility of constructive relations between political forces, which will also be beneficial for the election administration, for the future election process and for the entire country.’

Zhvania will leave her post from 1 July.

Her resignation came two days after Georgian lawmakers voted in favour of a package of electoral reforms based on the 19 April agreement between the government and opposition brokered by the EU. 

While her resignation was not part of the agreement reached in April, several opposition groups have insisted it was needed in order for the public to regain trust in the electoral process. 

Most of the opposition groups, including the formerly ruling United National Movement Party (UNM), still maintain that last October’s parliamentary elections were ‘rigged’, and that Zhvania was personally responsible for this.

Zhvania, who has headed the CEC since 2013, had rejected the idea of stepping down as recently as on 21 June, insisting there was no reason for her to do so.

Protesters clashed with police outside the Central Election Commission on 8 November 2020 following the announcement of preliminary election results. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

According to the recent electoral reforms, Zhvania’s successor must be elected by a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Previous heads were appointed by the CEC after being nominated by the President. 

The amended electoral code also increased the number of members of the Central Election Commission from 12 to 17. 

[Read more on OC Media: Dispute over electoral reforms heats up as Georgian election looms]

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