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Opposition will hold urgent meeting today

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, March 22
At a special press conference held on March 18 the Labour Party called on all opposition parties in Georgia to gather at the Tbilisi Marriott on March 22 and discuss how to change the present Government peacefully.

“Recent events, especially the Imedi TV hoax, have changed the situation and opposition parties need to hold consultations urgently. Mikheil Saakashvili is trying to aggravate the situation in the country as it is in his interests. To counter this it is necessary to hold consultations between all active opposition forces to identify how to change this criminal authority by peaceful means,” Shalva Natelashvili, the Labour Party leader, stated, adding that he had already held consultations with some parties and all will attend the 22 March meeting.

Several parties have indeed confirmed their participation. The National Council, consisting of the Conservatives, People’s Party, Movement for Fair Georgia, Mamulishvili Party, Party of the Future and Christian Georgia, says this initiative is acceptable for them but they do not accept the Labour Party’s idea of boycotting the local elections. "I am especially interested in the attitude of those opposition parties which are actually Government-controlled. One tactic we might discuss could be a general strike, but everything will become clear on March 22. If the Labour Party raises the idea of boycotting the local elections however we will not accept this, as the National Council has already launched its campaign. Our main aim is to replace Saakashvili and the first step in this process will be to win the local government elections,” Zurab Noghaideli, leader of the Movement for Fair Georgia, said.

Nino Burjanadze’s Democratic Movement- United Georgia will also attend, as its Press Service has confirmed. "The Movement will take part. We cannot say exactly whether Nino Burjanadze herself will attend, but if not we will send another representative,” the Press Service said. The Whites will attend too. Their leader Temur Shashiashvili said, "There are no democratic institutions in this country and the opposition should make the first step in this direction. We should demand the President’s impeachment and the calling of a public meeting,” Shashiashvili said.

However the Alliance for Georgia, which consists of Our Georgia-Free Democrats, the Republicans and New Rights has refused to take part in the meeting, as New Rights representative Mamuka Katsitadze stated on March 21. "The Alliance has already stated its position, which is that the present Government must be replaced by means of elections. The meeting scheduled for March 22 will be attended by those opposition parties which do not share our view on this. We are ready to meet and hold consultations with all opposition parties which are ready to come to power by solely democratic means. I do not suppose this meeting will achieve any important results,” Katsitadze said. However member of Our Georgia-Free Democrats Viktor Dolidze said that the Alliance has still not made a final decision on this. "Our leader Irakli Alasania is always ready to listen to other viewpoints and take part in such consultations. We will see in which format and on what themes the meeting will be held and make a final decision by the start of the meeting,” Dolidze suggested.

The Parliamentary opposition Christian Democrats (CDM) officially refused to take part in the meeting on March 21. "We will not attend any meeting in which Noghaideli takes part. It is unimaginable for us to hold consultations on our country’s future with a man who is acting according to The Kremlin’s instructions,” Giorgi Akhvlediani from the CDM stated.

The meeting is scheduled for 13:00.