Twelve opposition parties signed a joint declaration on January 29 calling for President Saakashvili’s resignation.
The declaration also calls for early presidential and parliamentary elections and “creation of appropriate conditions for hodling free and fair elections.”
The declaration was signed by the following parties: New Rights; Republican Party; Conservative Party; Party of People; Movement for United Georgia; Georgia’s Way; Democratic Movement–United Georgia (led by former parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze); Women’s Party; Traditionalists; Greens Party; Industrialists and Freedom Party.
“The ruling team’s each day in power creates new problems to the Georgian state and Georgian citizens. Under current conditions, it is a patriotic duty of each citizen of Georgia to do their best in order to change the authorities through constitutional means in the shortest period of time,” the declaration reads.
“From today one goal unites all of us – to make Mikheil Saakashvili resign as soon as possible,” Davit Gamkrelidze, the leader New Rights Party, said; he, however, also acknowledged that the tactics employed by the undersigned parties might vary.
“Those, who will not share our position [on the President’s resignation], will automatically be enlisted to the governmental team. This is a certain watershed, demarcation line between the real opposition and the rest of political forces,” he added.
The Labor Party, which has not signed on the declaration, said it had long been demanding Saakashvili’s resignation and there was no need for the party to reiterate its stance by signing additional documents. Shalva Natelashvili, the Labor Party, leader said his party shared the demands set out in the declaration.
National Forum, the party which was part of the opposition alliance for months in 2007-2008, said it was also skeptical about the declaration.
“We have asked our colleagues what they would do if let’s say Saakashvili announces tomorrow that he is calling early parliamentary elections, instead of presidential; we asked them: will you participate in those elections under the Saakashvili’s presidency? We have not received any clear answer from them. So if such a scenario happens, the declaration will simply remain an empty paper,” Irakli Melashvili of the National Forum said on January 29.
Former PM, Zurab Nogaideli, who now leads the newly set up party, Movement for Fair Georgia, reiterated on January 29, that he would not join the declaration, because early elections were not the public’s demand for now.
Irakli Alasania, Georgia’s former UN envoy, said on January 25 that he also supported the demand of early presidential elections and was holding consultations with other opposition parties on the matter. He has also offered hodling of a referendum as one of the means through which it could be possible to achieve early presidential polls. It was reported on January 28 that Alasania planned to launch collection of voters’ signatures with the request to hold the referendum on the matter. At least 200,000 voters’ signatures are required for that purpose.
Davit Gamkrelidze, the leader of New Rights Party, said on January 29, that holding of referendum was “a very interesting idea.”
Meanwhile, the ruling party has condemned the opposition’s demand on the President’s resignation as step towards “radicalization” of the political discourse.
“Unfortunately, the part of the opposition continues being stick to a radical stance,” Davit Bakradze, the Parliamentary Chairman, said on January 29. “I think that instead of radicalization, the population today needs our cooperation on the vital issues, such as overcoming the economic crisis and ensuring security in the country.”
In an obvious reference to the opposition’s calls for early elections, President Saakashvili said on January 27, that he would not allow destabilizing the country just because of some politicians’ “ambitions.”
And on January 28 he said that Georgia needed “unity and patience” to overcome serious challenges ahead. He also said that the authorities would continue efforts to further strengthen democracy.
“We will work with the parliamentary opposition over increasing the parliament’s role, for implementing reforms in the judiciary and for existence of more open, diverse and interesting media,” he added.