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Prepared by Diana Dundua
Monday, March 10
“United opposition coalition chose wrong presidential candidate”

Soso Shatberashvili of the Labor Party says the opposition coalition chose the wrong presidential candidate in Levan Gachechiladze, according to Akhali Taoba.

“The united opposition coalition failed to chose the right presidential candidate. If Labor Party leader Shalva Natelashvili, New Rights leader Davit Gamkrelidze or Republican leader Davit Usupashvili had taken Gachechiladze’s place, the situation would have been totally different,” Shatberashvili said.

“The united opposition coalition was afraid to take the political initiative. If Levan Gachechiladze had been a better politician he would not have dismissed the 200 000 people gathered in front of parliament [in anti-government protests]. He should have made the most of this opportunity, as the only force that President Saakashvili is afraid of is the people,” he added.

“Mikheil Machavariani: The opposition and government have common enemies!”

Vice-Speaker of Parliament Mikheil Machavariani criticized the opposition for refusing to cooperate with authorities in the face of Russia’s move to lift sanctions on Abkhazia.

Some opposition figures have said they will not cooperate with the government unless it withdraws Georgia from the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Machavariani reiterated Saakashvili’s comments over the weekend that the government and opposition should unite against common enemies.

“It doesn’t matter whether we like each other or not. We live in one and the same country and we have common enemies. So I hope the opposition were just being emotional when they made these statements and that they will change their position,” the vice speaker said. “And those who trade state interests for party interests will have to give their reasons to the public.”

“Journalist Giorgi Mamatsashvili to start ‘dry’ hunger strike”

Sakartvelos Republika reports that journalist Giorgi Mamatsashvili, who has been hunger striking since March 6 outside the Samshoblo publishing house in protest at its privatization, is threatening to stop drinking water too.

“I call on the government to be reasonable and give us back Samshoblo publishing house otherwise I will continue this protest until I die,” Mamatsashvili, who writes for the newspaper Asaval Dasavali, says.

The journalist’s hunger strike was discussed by parliament on March 7.

Elene Tevdoradze, who chairs the parliamentary committee on human rights, called for the creation of a committee to meet Mamatsashvili and discuss his demands.

Parliamentary Vice-Speaker Mikheil Machavariani took a similar position.

“Negotiation and dialogue is the best way to achieve a compromise. The state is responsible for opening a dialogue with citizens who take such radical measures,” he said.

“Georgian detained at Sarpi checkpoint”

Akhali Taoba reports that border guards in Sarpi arrested a Georgian citizen when he tried to cross the border with a false passport on March 8.

The man in question, named as Soso Chankseliani, is suspected of murdering a police officer, robbery and a number of other crimes, and has been wanted by the Interior Ministry since 2003.