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Georgia’s Independence Day approaches

By Messenger Staff
Friday, May 22
May 26 is Georgia’s Independence Day. Usually the mood in the days leading up to this is positive and festive but not this year. Now there are different opinions about it: some think that the demonstrators at Rustaveli Avenue should remove their cells and clean the street to make room for the military parade and public celebration, but some argue the contrary and recommend holding yet more energetic protest rallies in the centre of the capital.

Hopefully the administration, considering its conduct on November 7, 2007, will not use force to remove the protestors this time. However, some think this is a possibility. The authorities have stated that it is not necessary to hold the military parade at Rustaveli, suggesting it might be held at the Vaziani military base were the NATO exercises are taking place. It is even said that after the August war it might not be appropriate to hold a military parade at all, or if it is held it should be on a smaller scale.

The non-Parliamentary, so-called ‘radical’ opposition plans to hold a huge protest action at the civil parade. Although both sides have recently discussed continuing dialogue, both parties stubbornly restate their previous demands. The opposition insist on the immediate resignation of the President and the President on his side categorically refuses to go. Neither side is ready to make concessions so far. The protest actions carry on daily in different places and in different formats. Though not attracting large numbers they still create serious discomfort to those running the country. Parliament has not convened in the actual Parliament building for nearly a month and a half already and the State Chancellery cannot function normally either. The President cannot even enter his Tbilisi residence in Avlabari, so the protest actions cannot be ignored.

From time to time the opposition gathers more people in the capital. Now it plans to make more active and acute moves in the regions. Of course no one can doubt that dialogue is the only alternative to such a confrontation. It would be much appreciated by the population if some kind of consensus could be reached. Maybe Independence Day would be a symbolic date on which to take such a mutually beneficial step.

Eventually the street actions must be transformed into elections. Many experts have been suggesting for quite a period of time that both sides should agree to hold Parliamentary elections, under the necessary precondition of amending the election law. Logically this is the best option because if the President resigns new elections must be held in 45 days, and it would be very difficult if not impossible to introduce and implement efficient, necessary amendments to the elections code in so short a time. Therefore holding Parliamentary elections is a real and logical solution to the problem and both sides should demonstrate good will in this direction. If the international community supports such a decision and assists with financial support the crisis can be overcome.

The administration however can make the first move. For instance it can sacrifice and remove the Chairman of the CEC and call snap Parliamentary elections right now, for some time in the early autumn, which would allow amendments to be introduced timeously. It should not have to hold dialogue with the opposition, which has no authority to make such changes, before doing what it is legally responsible for doing.