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Saakashvili stays on campaign trail despite recent turmoil

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, September 26
A week from Georgia's parliamentary elections, the United National Movement (UNM) has continued presenting their election campaign to Georgian voters in different regions. President Mikheil Saakashvili said at campaign rally in Gurjaani on September 24 that the country has reached a critical point in the road where it will either continue forging ahead or return to the past. He stressed that neither tricks nor corrupt money from the north can stop Georgia’s development.

Encouraging his opponents to reject returning to the period of organized crime and terror, he called everyone to avoid “playing” with the topics which can later reflect on everyone. Expressing his confidence that the majority of the players would agree to the offer, he said the rest will stay “out of the game.”

The president said the Georgian Dream is coming and with them they are bringing “destructive program,” but the coalition will face “great disappointment” from the Georgian people on Election Day October 1. “We will write our history ourselves,” he stated.

Saakashvili said these people want to force not only the government to their knees but the whole Georgian population, but “their method” will work against them so that everyone will see that Georgia has not stopped.

Although the president is aware of the “big problems” the Georgian people are facing nowadays, he said the UNM’s election program is not based only on projects but also considers the fulfillment of its promises.

Meeting with the population in the Ponichala district in Tbilisi, Saakashvili said the ruling party has never tried to escape responsibility and has always tried to find ways out of problematic situations.

He said when today Georgia has the prospects to overcome poverty and have more jobs, ensure healthcare accessibility and carry out infrastructural projects, no one should be allowed to resist Georgia’s advance. “But the publics' support is necessary,” he stated.

Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili also encouraged the locals of Gldani district to avoid returning to “the old times.” “Every moment I will be busy fighting against unemployment,” he said, stressing that the success of every program is defined by people employed there.

“We will build our future together,” said Davit Bakradze, number one candidate of the UNM election list. Meeting supporters in Borjomi, Shida Kartli, Gigi Ugulava Head of the National Movement's Tbilisi organization said that those who would betray the ideals of the ruling party will betray our future too. Encouraging everyone to hold hands, Ugulava said the UNM would fight with their election platform against the “blackmail battle.” He said the party would go ahead with their heads up despite the “game without rules” they were offered.

Political analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili called the ruling party “a movement of sadists” that tries to cover the reality with lies. Doubting the prospects of the ruling party's campaign, Tsiskarishvili said people feel negative not only towards the UNM, but also their supporters.

Tsiskarishvili did not believe Saakashvili saying that he did not know what was going on in Georgian prisons. Stressing the necessity for raising the criminal responsibility of the officials engaged in the prison scandal, the analyst said that in talking about the defects of the penitentiary system Saakashvili should admit that he is the person who actually chairs this system.

Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger that the president’s administration and the General Prosecutor’s Office have been constantly provided with the documents proving the prison abuse, but nothing has been done to eradicate this problem for years.