Akmamed Imamkuliyev, Marneuli Gamgebeli candidate, should have registration restored
The Marneuli District Electoral Commission (DEC) annulled the registration of Akmamed Imamkuliyev, the United National Movement’s candidate for the office of the head of municipal administration – gamgeoba, on 5 June. Earlier, verbal confrontation occurred between between the party’s and the DEC’s representatives, which was assessed negatively by the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) and nongovernmental organizations. We would like to offer an analysis of the reasons for the annulment of the candidate’s registration, as well as our view of this matter.
For the sake of analysis, it is important to review the events in chronological order:
On 16 May, the Marneuli DEC registered Akmamed Imamkuliyev, the United National Movement’s candidate for the office of the head – gamgebeli of the Marneuli municipal administration. The order by the DEC Chairman noted that the decision could have been challenged within one day of its adoption.
On 31 May, the Organization for Free Development and Protection of Rights, which is a local observer organization, filed a complaint with the DEC and requested annulment of the 16 May decision and of Imamkuliyev’s registration, on the grounds that Imamkuliyev had not lived in Georgia permanently for a period of two years prior to the day when the elections were called as required by Article 134 of the Georgian Electoral Code. Despite the fact that the period for challenging the DEC decision had expired on 17 May, the Chairman proceeded with the complaint at own initiative.
The same day, the Marneuli DEC Chairman began collecting information regarding Imamkuliyev’s permanent residence in Georgia and addressed the Internal Affairs Ministry’s Border Police for this. According to the Georgian Internal Affairs Ministry’s data, Imamkuliyev had left the country on seven occasions between January 2012 and April 2014. Imamkuliyev’s longest stay abroad had lasted four months (he was in Almaty from 16 October 2012 to 11 February 2013). In his words, those trips were linked to his entrepreneurial activities. He presented financial documents to prove this.
On 5 June, the Marneuli DEC Chairman, pursuant to the Article 167(10) of the Electoral Code, upheld the complaint submitted by the Organization for Free Development and Protection of Rights and annulled Imamkuliyev’s registration.
Interestingly, just a few weeks ago, the CEC decided not to annul the registration of Irakli Kakulia and Davit Jikia, the Georgian Dream coalition’s mayoral candidates in Poti and Rustavi (see our blog post). In order to determine whether or not those individuals had met the two-year residency requirement established by the Electoral Code, the CEC applied the criteria of the respective provision in the Tax Code whereby an individual who spends at least 183 days on Georgian territory during any consecutive 12 calendar months is considered a Georgian resident. Also, the period of time that an individual spends outside Georgia for medical treatment, holidays, business trips, or study is counted as effective presence on Georgian territory.
Since the election law does not contain a detailed definition of what permanent residency means, we welcomed the fact that the CEC did not interpret the provision on residency requirement literally and did not disqualify the candidates in Poti and Rustavi. We believe that the CEC should make a similar decision in Imamkuliyev’s case. Reportedly, the United National Movement had challenged the the Marneuli DEC’s decision in the CEC.
We urge the CEC to be consistent and, considering all the above circumstances, to revoke the decision of the Marneuli DEC regarding the annulment of Akmamed Imamkuliyev’s registration.