A new year started, full of hopes and expectations.
In Georgia the political debate in the last week of the year was dominated by the adoption of the amendments to the electoral code.
According to the Draft Opinion (DO) expressed by the Venice Commission of Democracy through Law and OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the amendments are source of concerns. Local organizations share this opinion and called the president not to sign the law.
Paragraph 67 of the DO underlines that "Article 45(4) of the draft Code prohibits aliens from participating in election campaigns. This prohibition is also problematic. The rights of freedom of expression and association, according to Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights, belong to all
persons within the jurisdiction of a member State. Even if non-citizens (stateless and alien residents) do not have the right to vote, they do have the right to freely express their opinion, associate and participate in political debates during election campaigns. Such a clause limits fundamental rights of non-citizens residing in Georgia and conflicts with the basic human rights protected by the regional and global international conventions recognised by Council of Europe member states and OSCE states. The OSCE/ODIHR and Venice Commission recommend that this prohibition be deleted from Article 45(4)."
Bidzina Ivanishvili may be prevented not only to run for elections but also to turn his movement into a party.
President Saakashvili spent the new year eve with soldier. And he was most probably the more "militant" among them. He thus addressed his army " [...] Of course our country has a lot to worry about. A part of it is occupied by the enemy.[...] We are meeting tomorrow with the hope that we will free our country and help it stand up proudly. We will never kneel before the enemy and those whose desire is to destroy Georgia. I would like to recall our guys who have fallen. Everyone in this lineup, we are all soldiers."
These his words, in the Military base of Adlia, before meeting the Spanish singer Julio Iglesias, and before adding, in his TV New Year address to the Nation "I am absolutely sure that the empire will inevitably fall, Georgia will eventually be liberated and I want us to establish the tradition of congratulating each other [New Year] by saying ‘next year in Sokhumi".