US Ambassador to Georgia: we are following the elections very closely
US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan said the US is closely following today’s local self-government elections. According to her, these elections are very important for Georgia and provide an opportunity for voters to express their political will.
Speaking to reporters, the ambassador also noted that free and fair elections are the foundation of democracy.
“This is a very important day for Georgia and I am glad to participate in it as an observer. It’s nice that, despite the weather, voters show responsibility and come to the polling stations. It is an opportunity for citizens to hold their leaders accountable for what they prioritize. Free and fair elections are the foundation of true democracy”.
According to her, Georgia needs more political stability, not polarization:
“We want people to be at the polling stations. Georgia needs more political stability and not more polarization.There are really important issues that this country needs to deal with like jobs and high prices and COVID, education, water, roads. We really hope that after these elections, Georgia’s political leaders are going to get back to work on the issues that are the priorities for the Georgian public”.
Kelly Degnan also commented on the arrest of the third president of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, on October 2. According to the ambassador, the Saakashvili case will be a test of the judicial system of Georgia. She stressed that the United States will monitor the development of this case to ensure that it is being conducted in accordance with the law and international obligations.
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Saakashvili served as president of Georgia for ten years and two terms. In 2013, after his National Movement party lost the elections and the second term of his rule ended, Saakashvili left the country and has not returned to his homeland since.
All these years he lived in Europe and the United States, then settled in Ukraine, where he was first a member of the team of ex-President Poroshenko and the governor of Odesa, and then joined the opposition.
In recent years, he has chaired the reform committee under President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Saakashvili is currently not a citizen of Georgia – he automatically lost his Georgian citizenship after receiving the Ukrainian one.
Several criminal cases have been initiated against Saakashvili. Saakashvili is accused of abuse of power, embezzlement of budget funds, dispersal of the opposition rally in November 2007 and the persecution of the Imedi TV channel. Saakashvili is also involved in the beating of deputy Valery Gelashvili and the murder of Sandro Girgvliani.
Saakashvili has already been convicted on two counts. In one case, he faces six years in prison. The Georgian authorities have repeatedly stated that the wanted ex-president will be arrested as soon as he returns home.
Speaking about his visit to Georgia, Saakashvili himself stressed that he was not afraid of arrest.
On October 2, Georgia will elect local self-government bodies. However, the opposition sees the elections as a referendum to decide whether to hold early parliamentary elections and end the Georgian Dream’s nine-year rule in the country.