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The opposition has one goal

By Temuri Kiguradze
Tuesday, March 17
The leading Georgian non-Parliamentary opposition parties say they have a common goal – the ultimate resignation of President Saakashvili. Opposition politicians have signed a declaration which commits them to starting street manifestations against the Government.

“On April 9 the parties who have signed the declaration will start holding rallies which will last day and night. The main plan of action we will follow resembles the one adopted in Kyiv [during the so-called Orange Revolution] and will mainly involve blocking off Government institutions. The aim of the rallies is clear and common to all the oppositional parties – the resignation of the President and the subsequent appointment of early Presidential and Parliamentary elections,” stated Kakha Kukava, leader of the Conservative Party, speaking on March 13 at the RIA-Novosti news agency’s Tbilisi office.

Kukava noted that the opposition parties which will join the rallies in April have decided not to agree to any proposals made by the Government, including an offer of early elections, which are not preceded by the resignation of Mikheil Saakashvili. He also declared that a concrete plan of how the demonstrators should behave exists, but will not be made public. However Kukava stated that “any party or partner non-Governmental organization which decides to join the April 9 rallies can get this information without any problem.”

Opposition members also announced that the protest will not be limited to rallies in Tbilisi, as different regions of Georgia will also be included. “The Georgian people have to become participants of this process, which has now taken on historic significance for Georgia,” stated Nestan Kirtadze of the Labour Party. She added that Georgians who live abroad and wish to express their protest against the current regime must also be given such a possibility. “Georgia is not Tbilisi or the regions only, and I urge all the parties to conduct active work in offices outside the country. We [Labour] have already begun doing this,” Kirtadze said

The Labour Party, led by Shalva Natelashvili who finished fourth in the last Presidential elections, has made demands even more radical than those of some other non-Parliamentary oppositional parties. “After the Rose Revolution, Georgian society formed a regime and now the people have to remove it. It’s not only about Saakashvili, the country is not one person. We need to change the whole system,” stated Nestan Kirtadze. She also noted that Natelashvili will make a clear announcement on how the party will participate in the 9 April rallies after he returns from his visit to the US.

The opposition parties agree that they need to devise a common plan of future action, whether they achieve their goal or not. The parties claim that this plan is now in “preparation.”

Georgian President Saakashvili has already stated several times that he is not going to leave his position until the end of his term in 2013. Several MP’s of the ruling party have declared that the proposed opposition protests are part of a “Kremlin plot” supported by the Russian authorities, who want to change the Government of Georgia.

Protests have in fact already begun in Tbilisi. Demonstrators – about 10,000 of them – have attended a show given by opposition activist and singer Giorgi Gachechiladze, [nicknamed Utsnobi - Unknown], who sang from a mock-up of a prison cell. Gachechiladze, a brother of former opposition Presidential candidate Levan Gachechiladze, put himself in self-imposed ‘imprisonment’ in an improvised cell in a studio of Tbilisi-based Maestro TV in late January and has vowed to stay there until President Saakashvili resigns.

After the show, which was also attended by some opposition leaders - Nino Burjanadze, a former Parliamentary Speaker, among them – protesters marched towards Parliament and dispersed peacefully afterwards.