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Opposition presents signatures demanding Saakashvili’s resignation

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, March 10
Nine opposition parties, which have united to organize the April 9 street protests which will demand President Saakashvili’s resignation, presented the results of their signature collection campaign at the office of the Conservative Party on Monday. The leaders of the party said they have already collected 48,357 signatures in ballot boxes placed in Tbilisi metro stations, markets and major bus stations. The campaign is called “Save Georgia Together.”

The campaign organizers said this is a “good start.” Eka Beselia from the opposition Movement for United Georgia said that some more activities have been planned. “Political processes will continue until April 9. Special events will be held every day,” Beselia noted. “This is the beginning of a very important process designed to change the Government by constitutional means in a very short period of time,” she added. Beselia added that “This is a very serious number of signatures, collected in a very short period of time, and it confirms that support for the April 9 demonstration is very strong, as is support for the demand for Saakashvili’s resignation,” Eka Beselia stated.

Leader of the Conservative Party Kakha Kukava also said the action has already had some success. “These signatures prove that these people are ready to stay on Rustaveli Avenue day and night,” he said. Kukava called on other parties to join the action too. “The April 9 organising team is ready to accept into our ranks all political forces which share the same position,” Kukava noted at the press conference. The leader of the Conservative Party specifically mentioned Irakli Alasania’s Alliance for Georgia, saying that he is “willing to see members of this alliance on Rustaveli Avenue on April 9.”

The initiators of the action said that similar ballot boxes will be placed in 16 Georgian towns from March 10, including Telavi, Gori, Zugdidi, Batumi, Poti, Rustavi and Kutaisi. The action will last three days, the organizers said.

The initiative to hold protest rallies to demand President Saakashvili’s resignation and collect signatures with the same demand came from the Way of Georgia. On February 23 its leader Salome Zourabichvili said she would give the President until April 9 to resign. “Otherwise we will come out [into the streets] and will not disperse until we see Saakashvili’s resignation,” she added. Zourabichvili’s initiative was later joined by 8 other opposition parties, the Conservative Party, People’s Party, Democratic Movement, Freedom Party, Traditionalists, Industry will Save Georgia, Women’s Party and United Georgia. However her announcement coincided with an announcement by the Alliance for Georgia, comprising Irakli Alasania’s political team and the New Rights and Republican parties. The Alliance for Georgia gave Saakashvili 10 days to call a referendum.