Opposition to rally outside Parliament today
By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, November 7Rustaveli Avenue will see a protest demonstration on November 7, exactly a year after the opposition rally in front of the Georgian Parliament was dispersed with tear gas and rubber bullets. Opposition leaders say they will push for early Presidential and Parliamentary elections, the changing of the election code and the return of Imedi TV to its legal owners. The opposition will also demand the release of 16 political prisoners who have been incarcerated since last November’s events.
The leaders of the Conservative Party, Labour Party, People’s Party, New Rights, Georgian Women’s Party, Movement for United Georgia and Georgian Green Party, as well as several NGOs, have already confirmed their participation in the rally. “We are starting a new wave of protests against Saakashvili and his allies, and demand answers to all our questions, covering the period from last November to the August events this year,” Levan Gachechiladze, a leader of the opposition and former Presidential candidate, said.
The opposition leaders suggest that they may possibly be subject to provocations from the authorities, including the President and the Interior Ministry, however Georgian Government officials have said that “the November 7 events should never be repeated” and called for consolidation as a means for “the country’s further development.” The Government says it is ready for more intensive dialogue with both the Parliamentary and non-Parliamentary opposition.
Earlier last month President Saakashvili spoke about the lessons learnt from last November’s events, saying that, “Our duty is to remember November 7, and to very well understand what happened, in order to draw conclusions about it so as to prevent its reoccurrence.” Speaking to the Parliamentary majority on October 27, Saakashvili said that “Those events demonstrated how important it is for the Government and the President to listen to the people and how important it is to maintain dialogue with minority groups. November 7 has also taught us that unity is needed if we want to achieve a democratic society. It has taught us that confrontation is not the way to resolve differences; it is the way of death. It has taught us that unity is the most important value. If it hadn't been for these lessons, we would have failed to demonstrate such incredible unity in August,” Saakashvili added.
It is unclear how long the opposition rally will last. Some opposition leaders have said it might end in one day, unless “the Government does some foolish things.” Members of the ruling party also suggest that the demonstration will not last more than one day. Koba Khabazi from the National Movement said that the rally would end on November 7, because, as he said, “the mood for protest in society is less now than it was in November last year.”
Opposition leaders say that the demonstration will start at 2 pm at the Georgian Parliament. The protestors will march to the Presidential residence to hand the opposition demands to the President’s administration.