The messenger logo

Tell us what’s happening?!

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, February 25
Spring’s approaching and it looks like it will be a hot one.

The opposition is taking public steps and stating its intentions. There is no unity in the moves made by different opposition parties however. Some demand the immediate resignation of the President and the holding of Presidential elections, others are against this. Some propose street demonstrations, others think this is inappropriate.

The newly established Alliance for Georgia, uniting the Republicans, New Rights and Irakli Alasania’s team, demands the holding of a referendum. If its demand is refused it plans to start collecting signatures and hold a plebiscite (the decision of a referendum is Constitutionally binding while a plebiscite is simply an expression of opinion). Both will ask the same question: do you want a snap Presidential elections? One of the leaders of this alliance, Davit Gamkrelidze, explains why they demand a referendum. According to him if the referendum is held all the opposition entities will be united behind it, whereas during Presidential or Parliamentary elections they will be divided. This alliance has already nominated Irakli Alasania as a possible Presidential candidate, although there are no elections yet scheduled.

Zurab Noghaideli, the former Prime Minister now in opposition, thinks that snap elections are not good for Georgia. The leader of the Labour Party, Shalva Natelashvili, does not agree with Alasania’s candidacy at all, labeling him an ‘American project.’ Natelashvili has also labelled Nino Burjanadze the ‘reserve option’ of the American project, meaning that Labour is promising that such projects will not be implemented in Georgia any more. Previously Labour called Saakashvili an American project, implying there is more than one such project being fulfilled in Georgia. However President Saakashvili and his team have several times declared that there will be no snap elections, either Presidential or Parliamentary. Saakashvili has even expressed his regret at holding snap Presidential elections last year, because this act has provoked baseless illusions in the opposition. If there is an American project to replace him, President Saakashvili will do his best to frustrate it.

So what does all this mean? Have we reached another dead end? On February 23 leader of Georgia’s Way Salome Zourabichvili gave Saakashvili a deadline: he must resign before the Ninth of April, she says. If he does not, the non-Parliamentary opposition will start endless street protest rallies, utilizing all constitutional measures of protest. Saakashvili’s resignation is now the main and in fact only demand, all the previous ones have been put aside, declares Zourabichvili. We can therefore assume that these protests will happen, and civil strife will grip the country once again, with no side certain of the outcome of this.

Presumably most of the opposition parties will join Zourabichvili. On the same day she made her demand it was announced that former Defence Minister Irakli Okruashvili, now in opposition and a wanted man in Georgia, will return from exile in France. So here is yet another headache for the authorities: do they ignore him or arrest him, something which would definitely increase the general inclination to protest? Furthermore the Parliamentary opposition needs to be taken into account. They think that because the Russians are occupying Georgian territories this is no time to start protest actions, but they remain in opposition. The ruling party is trying to hastily implement social programmes and warn of a possible repeat attack from Russia. The Government propaganda machine asserts that Russia seeks to aggravate the situation in Georgia by provoking protest rallies, thus hinting that the opposition is in fact playing a Russian game, whilst ignoring its own complicity in sell-offs to Russian companies and similar dubious dealings with the convenient enemy.

The Georgian media is full of information and analytical articles about whether the President should complete his term or snap elections should be called. The opposition on its side has no clear cut plan of what to do if the Saakashvili administration refuses to bow to its various demands. So, as we said, a hot spring is approaching.