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Opposition Set to Focus on Saakashvili’s Resignation Demand
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 16 Jan.'09 / 19:00

A group of opposition parties plan to sign a joint declaration calling for President Saakashvili’s resignation, an alliance of New Rights and Republicans said on January 16.

“A joint demand of all opposition parties is President Saakashvili’s resignation; creation of proper electoral environment in shortest period of time and holding of early presidential and parliamentary elections,” Davit Usupashvili, leader of the Republican Party, said at a joint press conference with Davit Gamkrelidze, the New Rights Party leader.

“From today our alliance will direct all of its efforts towards achieving a broad public consensus on these issues,” he said, added that such declaration was expected to be signed by a broad range of opposition parties in about ten days.

Davit Gamkrelidze said that “the key precondition” for overcoming the crisis is the President Saakashvili’s resignation, since “he is the major source of this crisis”.

He also said that reaching an agreement on joint demands did not mean setting up of a united opposition union, because the authorities should have “several democratic alternatives”.

Statement by the New Rights and Republican parties echoed earlier remarks by Salome Zourabichvili, a former foreign minister and leader of opposition Georgia’s Way party.

She said on January 15, that based on series of her consultations with up to dozen of opposition parties three key issues had been revealed, which could be a source of consensus among these parties: President Saakashvili’s resignation; electoral system reform and holding of early presidential and parliamentary elections.

She said that recently she had held consultations with following parties: New Rights; Republican Party; Conservative Party; Party of People; Movement for United Georgia; Labor Party; Democratic Movement for United Georgia (led by former parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze); Traditionalists; Women’s Party; the Greens’ Party and Industrialists.

The New Rights Party was one of the first opposition parties to call for the President’s resignation after the August war. Unlike the New Rights, the Republicans initially were cautious about calling the early presidential elections, although were in favor of the early parliamentary polls. At the time of setting up of the alliance in early December, the both parties said it was a matter of tactics and further considerations which election – the presidential or parliamentary -  should come first, or whether both should be held simultaneously.

The same hesitant position on the matter was adhered initially by former parliamentary chairperson Nino Burjanadze’s party Democratic Movement for United Georgia on the matter. But in late December Burjanadze made it clear that she was in favor of the early presidential elections and stated that no fair parliamentary elections were possible under Mikheil Saakashvili’s presidency.

Irakli Alasania, Georgia’s former UN envoy and a newcomer on the opposition front, among other things also has to specify his position on the matter. Speaking at a news conference in Tbilisi on December 24, Alasania called for the early elections, but declined to specify which should come first – the presidential or the parliamentary polls.

After holding series of consultation with various opposition groups, Alasania has also yet to decide about his future political partners, as he said he was not planning to set up a separate party.

The alliance of the New Rights and Republicans said on January 16 that they were disappointed with Alasania’s protracted considerations on the matter.  

“Unfortunately, his [Alasania’s] further political steps have been delayed,” Davit Gamkrelidze, the New Rights Party leader, said. “Although Irakli said that he does not plan to set up a political party, he will have to identify the team, with which he will continue his political activities.”

The New Rights and Republicans reiterated that Alasania, who is currently in the United States, was still their “desirable partner.”

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