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Opposition sign joint manifesto

Monday, March 30
On March 27 the Georgian Academy and 13 opposition parties presented a joint manifesto concerning the peaceful protest they plan for April 9. They held a press conference to announce this outside the Supreme Court. The parties demanded once again that Saakashvili must resign for the sake of the country and that snap elections must be held straight afterwards. They say these steps are the preconditions of creating a new democratic life for the country.

The manifesto made five major points. It highlighted that holding this demonstration was the will of the majority of the country’s population. The demonstration will be peaceful, everything happening within the framework of the constitution. The parties will act only on the basis of the popular will and the working plans of the parties and political groups will be coordinated and agreed with one another. Finally the parties declared that they will remain faithful to the manifesto’s terms and promise to cooperate with other parties and members of the society who share their aspirations and wants to build a democratic country based on justice.

“Today the country suffers a deep political, social and economic crisis. The continual violations of human rights by the Government, the encroachment on private property, the subversion of the independent court system and finally the involvement in the August 2008 military provocation planned by Russia have created desperation and nihilism towards the present government among the people,” the manifesto says.

The signatories of the manifesto, who were each present at the press conference, are the following parties: Alliance for Georgia (New Rights, Republicans and Irakli Alasania’s team), Alliance for Freedom (Freedom Party, Party of Women for Justice and Equality, Traditionalists and Party of the Future), Conservative Party, Democratic Movement–United Georgia, The Way of Georgia, the Industrialists Party, the Movement for United Georgia and the People’s Party. Levan Gachechiladze, a former opposition Presidential candidate, also signed as an individual.

This was not the first time various opposition parties had jointly announced their April 9 plans. In February nine opposition groups called on the Georgian people to come out in spring and make Saakashvili go. But their priority then was deciding how to act until April. Now their main message to the people was that the demonstrations will be peaceful. This issue is the most interesting for society after the recent broadcast of videos released by the Interior Ministry which show members of the Democratic Movement - United Georgia (whose leader was present at the joint press conference) allegedly purchasing weapons for the April demonstrations.

On March 29 the Conservative Party and the Movement for United Georgia arranged a press conference at the Chess Palace. The leaders of these parties also discussed their overall principles and plans. Here once more the necessity of conducting a peaceful protest was urged. The parties even called the demonstrations “fighting with bare hands.”

Also on March 29 the Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II appealed to both the Government and opposition during his Sunday sermon at Sameba Cathedral, calling on both sides to ensure peace. “Unfortunately the political situation in the country is extremely strained and it is becoming critical. I address the Government and opposition in the name of the Georgian Church and ask you not to use violence and to conduct yourselves in a peaceful way,” the Patriarch said.