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Two more hats thrown into the election ring

By Etuna Tsotniashvili
Tuesday, January 27
It seems opposition leaders are becoming more vocal recently. Some have already hinted of possible Presidential ambitions, although the authorities state categorically that there will be no snap elections in Georgia.

Georgia’s former envoy to the UN, Irakli Alasania, has stated that he will declare himself a candidate for President when elections are held if this is the peoples’ wish. However he insists on the holding of early elections “to bring the country out of the current crisis.” “It’s not up to me to decide; we should feel society’s heartbeat… nothing is ruled out in politics,” said the former Ambassador, speaking on the Political Week programme on the First Channel on January 25.

“I express my full solidarity with the demand of part of the opposition to hold early elections,” Alasania said live on air, adding that Saakashvili must inevitably resign. “Saakashvili must resign not only because he dragged the country into a provocative war, but also because he has no capacity to bring the country out of the current military-political and economic crisis,” he said.

According to Alasania the President has lost the confidence of both the country and the international community, which is why people should be given an opportunity to elect a new leadership which will have the confidence of its people and also great support from the West. Alasania also highlighted that one of the outcomes of resolving the crisis has to be the reintroduction of real and direct dialogue with the Russian authorities under the mediation of the international community.

Alasania says that the most important thing for Georgia is the de-occupation of its territories. Therefore, mechanisms should exist which will prevent further conflict. The only way to create these will be through dialogue between the two sides. “Without dialogue it is impossible to resolve this problem, we cannot achieve de-occupation in a military way,” he said.

Alasania also talked about his plan to restore Georgia’s territorial integrity and stated that international pressure should continue to be applied to prevent the wider recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. At the same time international monitoring groups should enter the conflict zones to prevent further provocations. Alasania claims he was engaged in direct dialogue with the Abkhazian people, but has not said exactly what kind of status the territory would have had under his plan, saying that this would have been known if the negotiations had not been suspended. Alasania highlighted that Georgia had lots of chances to avoid the provocations in 2008 which led to war but they were missed.

Although she has not talked about methods of conflict resolution former Speaker of Parliament and co-author of the Rose Revolution Nino Burjanadze is also insisting on Saakashvili’s resignation and the holding of new Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Despite the ambitions of her colleague Alasania, Burjanadze is sure that, as a person who has been Acting President twice and served two terms as the Parliamentary Chair, she would have a good chance of victory in a Presidential election.

Burjanadze left the ruling party in April, a month before the Parliamentary elections, and subsequently founded a new political party, the Democratic Movement for United Georgia. She first served as Acting President after the resignation of Eduard Shevardnadze in November 2003 and then again after President Saakashvili’s resignation in November 2007.