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Opposition split even more

By Messenger Staff
Friday, July 9
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Georgia had very significant foreign policy meaning for the USA, Georgia and Russia as well. But it has also had a serious impact on the configuration of political forces within Georgia. The opposition have started asking why Secretary Clinton only wanted to meet the leaders of Giorgi Targamadze's Christian-Democratic Movement and Irakli Alasania's Our Georgia-Free Democrats rather than a wide range of opposition leaders as previous US guests have done. The Christian Democrats are the Parliamentary opposition, but Alasania’s party is just one year old and is not represented in Parliament. The one thing the two parties have in common is that the rest of the opposition think that they act in collusion with the ruling party.

Some opposition members think that the ruling party decided which opposition members Clinton would meet. Analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze thinks that the American side was not much bothered and relied completely on the recommendations of the authorities. Other analysts however suggest that it is not America's style to give the initiative to others and it made its own choice on the basis of the local election results. The Christian Democrats were the most popular party after the ruling National Movement and Irakli Alasania was the second most popular Tbilisi Mayoral candidate.

The opposition parties who think they were ignored by the US State Department draw from this the conclusion that the USA does not support the idea of holding snap Presidential or Parliamentary elections, a major demand of the non-Parliamentary opposition. Therefore Saakashvili and his team have received a guarantee that they will stay in power until at least 2013, they say. The Labour Party has held a special press conference at which it declared that Clinton not only gave personal guarantees that Washington will not remove Saakashvili but also that Targamadze and Alasania will inherit his mantle. However party member Nestan Kirtadze insisted that the people of Georgia and the genuine opposition would oppose such developments, as indeed they should in a sovereign state.

Some people think that Clinton wanted to meet Nino Burjanadze, if not as an opposition leader then at the brief meeting she had with leading Georgian women. However Burjanadze got upset about not being invited to the meeting with Targamadze and Alasania and did not attend the women leaders' meeting. The non-Parliament opposition in general are now openly expressing their discontent at Secretary Clinton’s decision to meet only Targamadze and Alasania's parties, claiming this is a statement that the US prefers these parties to theirs, and beginning to suggest that they should look elsewhere for support. It is not very difficult to guess where they will look. Maybe it was a coincidence, but former PM Zurab Noghaideli was in Moscow during Secretary Clinton’s visit to Tbilisi and met PM Putin and other Russian officials there. A further realignment of the opposition is likely to take place in the autumn.