Central Election Commission: Ballot box safe following Marneuli incident

  • Central Election Commission chairperson Tamar Zhvania commented on the clash at a voting station in Marneuli in a special address this evening. Photo from the Central Election Commission's press office.
Agenda.ge, 8 Oct 2016 - 20:02, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia's Central Election Commission (CEC) has commented on the clash at a voting station in Marneuli today and confirmed the ballot box was safe.

This evening CEC chairperson Tamar Zhvania made a special televised address to deny the ballot box had disappeared from the polling booth in Marneuli, and she urged those involved in the confrontation to act responsibly and allow the election process to continue peacefully.

Wrongful information had been released about the disappearance of the ballot box from the district. The wrongfulness of the rumour has also been confirmed by election observers on the spot.
We can confirm there was a confrontation and an attempt to forcefully enter the [voting station] building. Stones were also thrown and windows [of the building] were broken as a result."

Zhvania said the incident was instigated by "supporters of various political parties" but confirmed the ballot box had been kept safe by members of the local election commission.

A representative of the Central Election Commission as well as election monitors were present on the spot and they all confirm the ballot box is safe and secure, with its physical integrity and locks intact," said Zhvania in her live address.

The clash broke out about 6pm and shortly after this voting was suspended at the election district. It is not clear whether voting resumed before all voting stations around the country closed at 8pm.

The physical confrontation involving about a hundred young men erupted at #48 polling station in southern Georgia’s Marneuli district, leaving several police officers injured.

The country's Ministry of Internal Affairs said supporters of opposition United National Movement party (UNM) and election bloc Paata Burchuladze - State for People attacked the polling station in Kizilajlo Village, which is mainly populated by ethnic Azerbaijanis. 

The Ministry said the hooligans intended to steal the ballot box. When police entered the building to defend the ballot box, attackers threw stones at the law enforcers.

The Interior Ministry said several police officers, including the Chief of Marneuli Police, were injured in the attack. A short time later the Ministry said the mob had been dispersed and the situation was "under control".