Georgia

Ruling party to cease discrediting campaign against ISFED

The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) is concerned about the verbal attacks from members of the ruling party towards the organization’s long-term monitors, and assesses it as a continuation of their deliberate discrediting campaign against ISFED.

On August 1, in Khobi, MP Irakli (Dachi) Beraia verbally assaulted a long-term monitor of the organization, who was observing the presentation of the ruling party’s mayoral candidate. Beraia called the organization’s observer a “liar,” and said she was representing a “fraudulent” and “UNM-abetted” organization. He also said ISFED had a hand in a “coup attempt.”

On July 29, in Tbilisi, at a meeting with Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani researchers, MP Givi Mikanadze said ISFED was an observer organization with “low standards”, after finding out that a long-term monitor of the organization was present at the event.

Over the last few months, representatives of the ruling party have been trying to intentionally undermine the reputation and question the professionalism of election observer organizations, including that of ISFED, which is conducting a large-scale monitoring mission for the 2021 local self-government elections.

To achieve its objective, the ruling party is using every means, including the mandate of the Parliament’s ad hoc investigative commission on the 2020 elections. It is worth noting, that, citing the commission’s predisposed findings, pro-government television channels have organized an information campaign against the organization, coupled with a sponsored post published by the ruling party at its official Facebook page. In addition to that, the ruling party has been using all available platforms to spread aggressive, discrediting narratives against the organization.

Intensified aggressive rhetoric and personal attacks on members of the organization by high-ranking politicians are alarming; it hampers the work of the observer organization and amounts to pressure on its observers and the organization as a whole. It also comes in contradiction with democratic principles and values.

In a democratic society, citizen observation of elections is one of the most important preconditions of  transparent and fair elections. We strongly believe that the expertise the organization and thousands of its observers have obtained in the field of elections over the past decades plays a crucial role in ensuring that political and electoral processes are conducted within the confines of democracy.

Therefore, ISFED would like to call on the ruling party to immediately cease pressure on the organization and its observers. We would like to remind, that ensuring safe and constructive environment for observer organizations, including the physical safety of observers, is, above all, the government’s responsibility.

On its part, ISFED will further commit to ensure that its observers’ work is unimpeded, and will spare no efforts to make their findings known to the wider public.

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