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Mixed messages out of government-opposition talks

By Eter Tsotniashvili
Thursday, February 7
The government and the opposition gave conflicting accounts yesterday of talks to resolve the current political uncertainty.

Ruling party MP Levan Bezhashvili, who heads the parliamentary committee on legal issues, claimed that “a deal has practically been reached” which could see a constitutional amendment requiring the dissolution of the cabinet after parliamentary elections in return for the opposition’s recognition of the current cabinet as legitimate.

However, the opposition say that consensus is far from being found and that recognizing the current cabinet is not in the cards.

Speaking to the Messenger yesterday opposition coalition representative Tina Khidasheli said the two sides are “quite far from reaching any agreement.” She added that the opposition are only prepared to call off planned demonstrations as a concession.

Khidasheli said an agreement was “possible” but that a number of outstanding issues still need to be resolved.

The opposition submitted a list of 17 demands to the government last month which included writing a stipulation into the constitution requiring the cabinet to resign after parliamentary elections. Currently, the cabinet must resign only after a presidential election.

Vice-Speaker of Parliament Mikheil Machavariani reiterated that President Mikheil Saakashvili has already offered opposition figures government posts, which they refused to accept, at a parliamentary session yesterday.

However, opposition coalition representative Kakha Kukava ruled out the possibility of a government staffed by both ruling party and opposition representatives.

“The government will either be them or us, but not mixed,” he said.

Bezhashvili described the opposition’s demand for the cabinet to be dissolved after parliamentary elections as understandable, because the political landscape could shift after a new parliament is elected. He also said that the talks had seen progress on other issues adding that decisions will be made “in several days or weeks.”

Khidasheli said negotiations are expected to resume on Monday but added it is “not clear if any urgent issues will be resolved.”