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Democracy-support gets in a squeeze in Georgia

by | Mar 6, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A new law in the former Soviet republic of Georgia has led to several international organizations reconsidering their democracy building activities.

The law was supposed to strengthen transparency in the election campaign this year and next, but a broad campaign says it is aimed at securing President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party election victory.

They say the rules are vague and a kind of carte blanche for authorities to go after anybody they don’t like.

The Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) has decided to seize their cooperation with Georgian political parties, because of the new party financing regulation.

Also Konrad Adenauer Foundation has expressed skepticism towards the new regulations, calling them vague.

But now the Speaker of Parliament promises to amend the law, so that international organizations can safely continue their work here, without fear of getting targeted for illegally meddling in local politics.

Speaker Davit Bakradze stresses that even the current law doesn’t create problems for these organizations, but because these kinds of questions have been raised, the government aims to dispel any such doubts, and will therefore make a separate article, specifically guaranteeing the rights of international groups like the NIMD to continue building democracy.

The new article will guarantee that they are not lumped into that dreaded legal category of a person of group ‘related to a political person’, as long as they only have a business relations with political parties, Bakradze said March 5 at a bureau session in parliament.

Parliament’s committee for foreign affairs is instructed to meet these organizations and explain that the law doesn’t restrict their activity.

A bill adopted in late December 2011 made regulations about financing of political parties significantly tougher. Crucially, the new regulations not only apply to political parties, but also to companies, groups and individuals directly or indirectly related to them.

The non-governmental sector immediately protested, because they claim they will no longer be able to function and demand to have the law amended.



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