A senior lawmaker from the ruling party, Givi Targamadze, said although early elections were ruled out, instead the authorities were ready to offer the opposition far-reaching democratic reforms that would pave the way for them to influence on policies and eventually to come into power.
MP Targamadze, the chairman of parliamentary committee for defense and security, told Civil.Ge on April 6, that the authorities were ready “to clean the way” for the opposition and for the constitutional power transition.
“We recognize the power transition should happen in frames of the constitution and if someone has discomfort, if someone thinks that various positions are distributed unfairly and if someone thinks that these problems are hindering them to move through this road of [constitutional power transition], we offer them to clean this way and to put everything as they should be so that nobody has any problems for constitutional power transition,” MP Givi Targamadze said.
He said that electoral reform, including working out a new rule of composition of the Central Election Commission (CEC) would be part of this process that “will enable the opposition to gain a victory through the elections” in case of popular support.
MP Givi Targamadze also said holding of local elections in spring, 2010, instead of originally planned autumn, 2010, wherein Tbilisi mayor could be elected directly, instead of the current practice of electing a mayor by the City Council, was part of this proposal. He described this proposal put forth by an influential Tbilisi Mayor, Gigi Ugulava, last week as “very healthy.”
He also said that the ruling party “should not be afraid” of direct election of mayor of the capital city, “even if we won’t have very firm positions by that time.”
As far as street protest rallies, planned from April 9, are concerned, MP Givi Targamadze, said that the authorities would meet them “very calmly” and would protect law and order. He also added that it was the responsibility of the organizers to secure holding of the demonstration in frames of the constitution. “If the law is violated, it will certainly be prevented,” he added.
While expressing readiness for a broad-range of democratic reforms, the ruling party also says that it can only be achieved through a dialogue between the opposition and the authorities. Another senior lawmaker from the ruling party, Pavle Kublashvili, said after meeting with President Saakashvili on April 6, that no unilateral decisions on the matter were expected from the authorities and added that the decision should be taken jointly in the process of dialogue.
Davit Bakradze, the parliamentary chairman, also said on April 6, that the authorities were ready for a dialogue with the opposition on improvement of election environment, constitutional reform and strengthening of the parliament’s role; as well as on local self-governance issues and in overall on “increasing the quality of democracy.”
“On our part there is a concrete readiness over concrete issues,” he said. “We have really taken many steps to show that there are no problems in the country, which cannot be settled through a normal, political dialogue… There is a part of political parties, which believe that such dialogue has no sense today. But I hope that after some time, at least a part of these parties will see that a road of dialogue has no alternative.”
Meanwhile, Dimitri Shashkin, a minister for probation and penitentiary system, who is charge of talks with the opposition, met on April 6 with some representatives from the parliamentary minority as part of the authorities’ initiative to launch a dialogue with the opposition on three pressing issues identified by the ruling party – national security, economic problems and democratic reforms.
It was the second meeting in frames of this process; but with most of the opposition parties – including those planning to organize protest rallies from April 9 – boycotting these talks, the process has turned into a low-key event.
MP Levan Vepkhvadze from the Christian-Democratic Movement, which is a leading party in the parliamentary minority group and which takes part in this process of talks with Minister Shashkin, said on April 6, that it was up to the authorities “to trigger motivation for dialogue” among the opposition parties. He said that it would be less productive to speak only with the parliamentary minority, because as he put it, the parliamentary opposition “is not the political force, which is making political atmosphere in the country tense.”
The opposition politicians, those planning rallies, say that the authorities should show readiness for a real compromise by taking a first tangible step in order to demonstrate that their call for a dialogue was not just a mere PR campaign.