Presidential candidate and business tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili has never “demanded anything” from the nine-party opposition coalition, Republican Party leader Davit Usupashvili said.
The ruling party and some media outlets have suggested that the bloc, which is backing presidential candidate Levan Gachechiladze, has agreed to give Patarkatsishvili the prime minister’s position in exchange for financial and political support in the event of Gachechelidze winning on January 5.
“Patarkatsishvili has never asked for anything specifically in talks with us,” Usupashvili, who, as the Republican Party leader, is also one of the leaders of the opposition coalition, said in an interview with the Georgian daily Rezonansi, published on December 15.
Speculation about the alleged “clandestine deal” between Patarkatsishvili and the opposition emerged after Usupashvili, along with some of his colleagues from the bloc, visited London last week, where they met with the tycoon.
He said that the opposition coalition united eleven members – nine parties and two individual opposition activists - Giorgi Khaindrava and MP Levan Gachechiladze. All decision, Usupashvili said, are endorsed within the bloc with the formula “consensus minus one.” Ten out of eleven votes are needed to make a joint decision. Usupashvili said this formula would operate in the cabinet if the bloc won on January 5.
He has also strongly denied allegations made by the authorities that instead of concentrating on the election itself, the opposition was more focused on preparing for post-election protests. Usupashvili, however, did warn that the public would respond if there was vote rigging.
“Although the authorities have mobilized hundreds of millions, including administrative resources, the authorities see that they are not doing well in the polls, so both internationally and domestically they are vigorously planting the perception that the opposition is preparing for January 6 [instead of polling day itself],” Usupashvili said. “I think that the authorities, through rigging and intimidation, plan to ensure a favorable results for themselves in the January 5 elections.”
He added that “peaceful protest” is expected in response, involving, as he said, “appealing to the court, appealing to international observers and there also might be peaceful protest rallies if voters see that their votes have been stolen.”
“In the light of this situation, we expect provocations,” Usupashvili said. “They would be used as a pretext for the authorities to impose a state of emergency to calmly finalize the election process by endorsing the final vote tally. The constitution says that no elections should be held if there is a state of emergency; but the constitution says nothing if the elections are already over and only the counting remains.”
The Republican Party leader said that he hoped tahta such an eventuality would be resolved, especially with international involvement. In this context, he mentioned the importance of a December 13 U.S. Senate resolution, calling on the U.S. President “to engage in an open discussion with the leaders of the Republic of Georgia to express support for the planned presidential elections and the expectation that such elections will be held in a manner consistent with democratic principles.”