At least four opposition parties have called for launching street protest rallies on April 9 to force President Saakashvili to resign, a day after the newly set up alliance called for referendum on the same issue.
Conservative Party; Georgia’s Way; Party of People and former parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze’s Democratic Movement–United Georgia party called on President Saakashvili to resign before April 9.
At a separate press conference held on February 23 and February 24, leaders of those parties declined calls for holding a referendum to decide whether to hold the early presidential election or not.
“No referendum should be held under the Saakashvili’s presidency,” Kakha Kukava, co-leader of Conservative Party, said on February 24. And another leader of the Conservative Party, Zviad Dzidziguri said: “We plan to live on the Rustaveli Avenue [outside the Parliament] unless Saakashvili resigns… the protest rallies will be launched in other towns as well.”
Nino Burjanadze said on February 24: “Our party has concluded the first stage of consultations with the opposition parties and we believe that President Saakashvili should resign before April 9; otherwise we will deem that all the resources are exhausted and the only way left for reaching the goal is the launch of protest rallies, which should last unless the President is forced to resign.”
A newly set up Alliance for Georgia, involving Irakli Alasania’s political team; New Rights and Republican parties, called on President Saakashvili on February 23 to appoint the referendum within ten days.
Davit Usupashvili, the leader of Republican Party, said that difference in tactics “at one glance may seem insignificant” as the goal unites these parties, but “in fact this difference is very important.” He said that the Alliance for Georgia did not want to become “a hostage” of pre-announced dates of launch of protest rallies.
“The process is more important for us, than the date; the process should lead us to a date and not vise versa,” Usupashvili said.
National Forum, which in the past was part of the opposition coalition, also said that the priority was to define “how we are moving to the date.”
Salome Zourabichvili, a former foreign minister and leader of Georgia’s Way party, said that differences in tactics did not mean confrontation between the various opposition parties. She said the goal was the same and “multi-pronged” tactics could be used by various parties to reach this goal – resignation of President Saakashvili.
Koba Davitashvili, the leader of People’s Party, however, warned that differences in tactics might “confuse” the opposition supporters and undermine the entire process of pressuring the President to resign. “The important is not through which way we are moving, but the important is whether we are moving together or not,” Davitashvili added.
Davit Usupashvili acknowledged that eventually “the process” adhered by the Alliance for Georgia might also lead to joining the protest rally called by other parties for April 9.