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Ruling Party, Opposition End Second Round of Talks
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 12 Nov.'07 / 23:32

“Progress” has been made in the second round of talks on November 12 between the opposition and government on issues relating to the election code. The opposition, however, said some urgent problems still remain to be resolved.

Talks were held between five opposition parties - Georgia’s Way, Conservative, Republican, New Rights and Industrialists – and the ruling party, represented by Nino Burjanadze, the parliamentary chairperson; Vice-Speaker Mikheil Machavariani; MP Giga Bokeria and MP Maia Nadiradze.

“An agreement has almost been reached on the election code,” MP Kakha Kukava of the Conservative Party said after the talks. “If they had agreed earlier on these issues we could have prevented the current crisis. They have agreed to practically all of our demands related with the election code. But dialogue on these issues still needs to continue.”

The opposition parties are pushing for a change to the majoritarian MP election rule and for allowing opposition parties to have representatives in the election administrations.

“We have made progress towards reaching an agreement on the election code, which has been a cornerstone of the opposition’s demands,” Maia Nadiradze, the parliamentary majority leader, said after the talks. “I think this is the most important thing because our goal is – and I hope the opposition’s goal is also the same – to have democratic elections.”

Opposition leaders, however, said that emergency rule, the restrictions on the media and, what they call, “political repression against the opposition” were also priorities in need of redress.

“Unfortunately no results have been reached on these issues,” MP Kakha Kukava said. “We think that these talks are progressing very slowly and the authorities have failed to properly understand the current crisis. Media restrictions and emergency rule, as well as repression, are still underway. The situation has not changed since the first round of talks [on November 10].”

“There have been cases of people, identified by video footage as having attended the protest rallies, being either subsequently arrested or intimidated by the police,” Davit Usupashvili, the leader of the Republican Party, said. “But there hasn't been a single case of a police officer being punished for the excessive use of force during the break up of the demonstrations. They have not even interviewed Koba Davitashvili, who was brutally beaten. So we are telling them: stop the repression against ordinary citizens who participated in the protest rallies.”

Maia Nadiradze, the parliamentary majority leader, however, rejected  the allegations, saying that the investigation of cases involving “violence against police officers” was legitimate and did not constitute political repression.

Talks are due to resume on November 14.

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