Davit Gamkrelidze, the leader of the opposition New Rights Party, said President Saakashvili should resign and early presidential and parliamentary elections should be called.
Speaking at a news conference, Gamkrelidze, who last week visited the United States, said that Georgia had suffered “a devastating defeat” as a result of “adventurism into which the country has been dragged.”
“As a result of this defeat, over a thousand of our compatriots have been killed and wounded; over 100,000 people were forcefully displaced; the Georgian army has disintegrated, and been disarmed and demoralized; the country’s infrastructure is destroyed,” Gamkrelidze said, adding that Georgia had lost even territory inside breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which had never been under separatist control.
“We have also lost the prospect of becoming a NATO member in the nearest future, if only for the fact that it is unclear within which borders Georgia should join the alliance,” he added.
Gamkrelidze blamed Russia’s “imperial policy” for the current situation.
“But we should face the truth,” he said. “The cause was also the Georgian authorities’ badly thought out, irresponsible, emotional policies in respect of Russia, Abkhazia and former South Ossetia, which were purely aimed at internal consumption; as well as endless military rhetoric and threats.”
“And the decision of Mikheil Saakashvili to shell Tskhinvali and to take it, turned out to be fatal. That was a trap for Georgia,” Gamkrelidze said. “Despite numerous warnings, Saakashvili unilaterally took the criminal and irresponsible decision to shell Tskhinvali and to take it, which eventually led to catastrophic consequences for the country.”
“Hence, Mikheil Saakashvili has no longer either the political or moral right to be the president of Georgia or commander-in-chief,” he added.
He said that his party was proposing that opposition parties and civil society organization begin extensive consultations on ways to overcome the current crisis. New Rights Party officials said street protest rallies were not an option.
Gamkrelidze suggested that his call for President Saakashvili’s resignation might lead to the ruling party labeling him “a traitor and Russian agent.”