TBILISI, DFWatch – Democracy groups demand that the date of the parliamentary is brought forward for Georgians living abroad.

The election is scheduled for October 1, but the groups it brought forward to September 29 or 30.

The groups say in an application to the Central Election Commission (CEC) that having an earlier election date abroad is necessary in order to protect the basic rights of Georgian citizens.

The election code allows changing the date of an election, but only as an exception if it is necessary.

Recent legislative amendments made it more complicated for Georgians living abroad to register and to vote. They need additional documents to register for voting and many may not be able to manage registration within defined terms.  The real number of Georgians living abroad is unknown, and no official data exist, but researchers estimate that it may be up to one million. The government recently decided to once more postpone holding a census requested by the United Nations. Georgia last held a census in 2002. 

The CEC Wednesday said the date will not be changed because it is defined by law. Eka Azaarashvili, spokesperson for CEC, said the president sets the date of the election and it is defined by the constitution, so they aren’t allowed to change date in Georgia or abroad.

Along with their appeal, the NGOs on Wednesday sent out a resolution which says that the upcoming election is important as there is hope in people that it is the only chance to peacefully change government. But the organizations consider that despite a number of statements from the government saying it is ready to hold an objective and fair election, its actions are completely different against the opposition. This includes ‘discriminatory legislative amendments’, repressions through court and law enforcement bodies against opposition parties, and restricting the media.

“Specific video-audio and documentation prove that the government declared war on people with different views (illegal arrest-detentions, threats, restricting business and property rights), also to media expressing opinion freely,” the resolution says.

NGOs remind about the seizure of hundreds of thousands of satellite dishes belonging to the opposition or independent media outlets, many instances of physical abuse of journalists, attempts to interrupt the election campaign of the opposition, seizure of property and personal bank accounts, fining and arrests.

Such conditions make it impossible to conduct a fair and objective election, which contains serious threat to inspire civic confrontations. NGOs consider that fair rates of international organizations may become a factor to stop the government’s violence and avoid civic confrontation.

“We hope the international community will express its own fair opinion in this difficult situation and will help the Georgian people hold a fair and peaceful parliament election on October 1.”