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Opposition firm on vow to blockade new parliament

By Temur Kiguradze
Monday, June 2
President Mikheil Saakashvili warned against weakening the country out of “private anger” as opposition leaders repeated their promise to physically prevent the new parliament from convening.

On May 30 the United Opposition, an eight-party coalition, released a joint statement with the Labor Party stating that they refuse to recognize the results of last month’s parliamentary elections, which they claim were rigged, and demanding a repeat vote.

The same day Saakashvili said the ruling party is ready for cooperation and repeated an offer of government roles for opposition figures, including the post of parliamentary vice-speaker.

He also said while some parties’ disappointment at their performance in the elections is understandable, he warned them “not to weaken the strength of the country because of private anger.”

The ruling party won 119 of 150 seats in the elections, according to official results which are unlikely to change, and the coalition has pledged to boycott parliament they say was illegitimately elected through fraudulent elections.

Last week coalition figures upped the ante, calling on supporters to stop the new parliament convening by protesting outside and preventing MPs from entering.

However, in an interview with the newspaper Rezonansi published on the weekend, coalition leader Levan Gachechiladze ruled out storming the building, stating that “violence in not our way.”

This is a marked change in tone from last week’s rally, when he said the opposition would go to extreme lengths to prevent the session convening and did not rule out “bursting into parliament.”

Other opposition leaders have expressed confidence that protests will be enough to disrupt the parliamentary session.

Conservative MP Kakha Kukava said that if thousands of opposition supporters gather outside parliament, it would be “unimaginable to conduct a session in these conditions.”

The Christian Democrats, which won the third highest number of seats after the ruling party and United Opposition, say they haven’t decided whether to join the boycott.

However, on May 30 a party representative said they would not attend parliament as the only opposition party to ignore the boycott.

The exact date the new parliament will convene for its first session has not been announced. By law, it must be on or before June 10.