Opposition unites to demand Saakashvili resigns
By Etuna Tsotniashvili
Friday, January 30
On January 29 a group of opposition parties and representatives of the public sector signed a new declaration, which demands the resignation of President Saakashvili, the holding of snap Presidential and Parliamentary elections and the creation of “appropriate conditions in which to hold free and fair elections.” The New Rights, Republican Party, Conservative Party, People’s Party, Movement for United Georgia, Georgia’s Way, Democratic Movement–United Georgia, Women’s Party, Traditionalists, Green Party, Industrialists and Freedom Party are the political bodies which have signed the declaration.
The document says that Mikheil Saakashvili and his team have taken the country to the edge of catastrophe during their five years in power, and each further day the country is under Saakashvili’s regime is a guarantee of more problems for Georgia and its citizens. “Consequently each Georgian citizen’s patriotic obligation is to do everything to change the current authorities in a constitutional way,” the declaration says.
According to New Rights Leader Davit Gamkrelidze the only way out of the current crisis is the President’s resignation because the only person who put the country in this condition is Saakashvili.
“Today one demand, one goal, unites us - to get rid of Saakashvili,” Gamkrelidze stated, adding that the whole opposition is unanimous in this demand and no one should say that the opposition is divided. “Saakashvili should resign and there is no longer any other issue. If we don’t achieve this other issues will no longer be important because the country will not exist,” the leader of Georgia’s Way, Salome Zourabichvili, said.
The Labour Party has not signed the declaration but Zourabichvili stated that she has confirmation from Labour leader Shalva Natelashvili that his party agrees with its contents. “If someone does not agree to these demands he or she cannot now pretend to be part of the opposition or be defending the interests of this country,” she said. However the Labour Party says that it has not signed the opposition’s declaration because it has been demanding the same things since 2003. They think that the other opposition parties should join them, not the other way round. “How can we join with Burjanadze? Should we join her or she join us?!” party member Soso Shatberashvili told The Messenger.
The National Forum and Zurab Noghaideli’s newly-founded Movement for Fair Georgia have also not signed the declaration. The National Forum’s reason is that the opposition does not have a clear idea about how it is going to enforce the demands it is making. “We have asked the opposition parties what they will do if Saakashvili holds a new election - will they take part in elections under Saakashvili’s Presidency? We have not received a clear answer and that’s why we have refused to sign this document,” leader of the National Forum Irakli Melashvili said. Former PM Noghaideli thinks that today is not the time to demand early Parliamentary and Presidential elections, although this time will come soon. Former Georgian Ambassador to the UN Irakli Alasania did not sign the document either, but Zurab Abashidze, part of his developing political team, has told Interpressnews that Alasania agrees with the opposition’s demands and has declared his solidarity but will give his opinion on this document when he introduces his new team to the public.
The non-Parliamentary opposition parties who signed the document did not invite the Parliamentary opposition to the signing, so it has not joined in with their demands so far. Member of Democratic Party of Georgia Gia Tsagareishvili has stated that they will make a decision after reading the document. “Let them come here and give us this document. We will discuss it and then decide. Here is their communication problem. If somebody does not want to see my face I am not interested in them. I am not going to go somewhere to see them. Let them come, talk to us, tell us what they want and we will answer them,” Tsagareishvili said.
The ruling party has condemned the opposition’s demand for the President’s resignation as step towards the “radicalization” of political discourse. “Unfortunately, part of the opposition sticks with a radical stance,” Davit Bakradze, the Chairman of Parliament, said on January 29. “I think that instead of further radicalization, the population today needs to see the cooperation of different parties on vital issues, such as overcoming the economic crisis and ensuring security in the country.”
In an obvious reference to the opposition’s calls for early elections, on January 27 President Saakashvili said that he would not allow the destabilization of the country for some politicians’ “ambitions” and categorically refused to held early elections.