Nina Khatiskatsi is the Georgian Dream coalition's candidate for new ombudsman, or public defender, here during a protest inside parliament earlier in 2012. (DFWatch photo.)

TBILISI, DFWatch — The majority in parliament has picked a former employee of Transparency International as candidate for ombudsman.

Nina Khatiskatsi was fired by TI Georgia shortly before the parliamentary election, allegedly for political reasons.

Who will fill the chair as ombudsman has been a hotly debated question the last month, with organizations and activists and others promoting their favorite.

Former member of parliament Dimitry Lortkipanidze has large support from families and relatives of prisoners, while Tamar Gurchiani, lawyer and human rights activist, gets most support from non-governmental organizations.

Other candidates have also been proposed, but the competition seemed to be mainly between those two.

During debates between the candidates, Gurchiani was attacked for declaring that she will defend the rights of sexual minorities just like the rights of prisoner or other groups, while Lortkipanidze was criticized for alleged homophobic statements and discussion tended to center on this issue.

A few weeks ago, the non-governmental sector proposed Nina Khatiskatsi as a potential candidate. She is a former employee of TI Georgia. Even though it was an unofficial proposal, Khatiskatsi said she would withdraw her candidacy and support Tamar Gurchiani as ombudsman.

After today’s session in parliament, majority representatives told journalists that they support Khatiskatsi and will not nominate Tamar Gurchiani. Khatiskatsi was asked and accepted being a candidate.

The majority plans to hold a meeting with their candidate tomorrow.

Meanwhile, parliament will today suspend the authority of Giorgi Tughushi as ombudsman, or public defender, as the position is also called. It turns out that Giorgi Tughushi, who was appointed prison minister during the prisoner abuse scandal, has not handed in his resignation and until today has retained this position.