Giga Bokeria, the Foreign Relations Secretary of the United National Movement (UNM), has said the key priority for the UNM now is to defend the votes. "At the end of undemocratic election environment the government yet again failed to refrain on the last day of the elections and resorted to violence and illegal actions against voters and election observers," Bokeria added noting that this creates a grave setting of undemocratic and un-free elections.
"It is very unfortunate that at the end of absolutely non-free and undemocratic pre-election environment, of that pre-election environment where just days before the runoff electio,n our election campaign manager [Gigi Ugulava] was arrested without any ground and absolutely illegally, where several our candidates had to conduct their election campaigns from the prison and even one of them, Mr. Jibukhaia, has been running for [runoff election in] Khoni from the prison today [12 July]. When unpunished violence, attacks on our offices, campaign meetings and activists have become daily phenomena and many of our candidates were forced to drop the race because of pressure exerted on them. At the end of this all, even on the runoff election day, the government yet again failed to refrain and resorted to violence and illegal actions against voters and observers. This has created a grave setting – the setting of undemocratic and un-free elections. Nevertheless, we as a democratic opposition party, focus our attention on a significant finalizing phase of this process – the counting of votes and defending of each and every vote cast for us," Bokeria said and noted that this is the first precedent in the history of independent Georgia when opposition candidates conducted election campaigns from prison. According to him, charges brought against UNM candidates were absolutely unfounded and absurd whereas those who raided polling stations were released on bail.
"This is the manifestation of how the government fought and what methods it applied against the opposition, but let me reiterate that the key now is to defend votes because the process has not ended yet," Bokeria said.