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Opposition say they remain “united”

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, May 14
The radical opposition say that they remain “united” and a limited divergence of views among the April 9 organisers is “natural”. The opposition are stating this in an attempt to defuse speculation which has appeared in the Georgian media about an alleged “split” in the radical opposition. “There is a diversity of views among the opposition, however our spirit of unity remains integral to us,” the leader of the Alliance for Georgia, Irakli Alasania, said on Wednesday. “It is natural that there are different views among the opposition, but this does not mean that our plans contradict each other and neither does it mean that the opposition will take back their demand for early Presidential and Parliamentary elections,” Alasania said, adding that the Alliance will support all demonstrations which are conducted constitutionally.

Alasania has said that the area of Kostava Street in front of the Georgian Public Broadcaster, which is currently blocked to traffic, should be opened up again. Meanwhile the former Parliament Speaker and now leader of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia Nino Burjanadze has said she will organise a “corridor of shame” in front of the GPB on Thursday. These two seemingly contradictory statements fuelled more rumours about a split in the opposition, but after hour-long consultations in the offices of the New Rights party, the opposition leaders said that Kostava Street would be opened but the “corridor of shame” will also be organised in front of the GPB, these two actions not being mutually contradictory. “Blocking Kostava Street has caused problems for ordinary citizens and not the Government,” leader of the New Rights party David Gamkrelidze told journalists after the meeting. “Opening the road at the GPB will be an act of goodwill which shows that the opposition is ready to lead events constructively,” Alasania said.

Commenting on the alleged split, leader of the Way of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili said that the opposition have different viewpoints on some “tactical” issues. “Our strength is that despite the diversity of opinions, we are working to achieve one joint aim together. The opposition remains united,” she said. Nino Burjanadze however has been making further radical statements which do not necessarily represent an agreed opposition position. She has reiterated that “dialogue with the President cannot be conducted” as Saakashvili is “inadequate.” “He said that he will not let us to make corridors of shame, but we will hold this action and let’s see if anyone disturbs us. Those with a different position have right to act in a different way, and if they reach the goal with their own plan sooner, it will then be clear that their way was the correct one,” the leader of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia said.

Meanwhile the Government has said that it is still waiting for a response from the opposition to the President’s proposals at the meeting on May11. One of the main issues stressed by state officials on Wednesday was the May 26 celebration. The opposition have claimed that they will hold an alternative civil parade on that day, Georgian Independence Day, and will not allow the authorities to hold the military parade. The Tbilisi City Mayor said holding a parade is not the ultimate aim of the Government. “It might not be held at all, in order to prevent an escalation of the situation,” Ugulava said, adding that “it is regrettable that some politicians want to turn Independence Day into a party gathering.” “The opposition is trying to hook the Government with their provocations, the only response of the authorities will be calmness and patience,” the Tbilisi Mayor said.

Georgian Parliament Speaker David Bakradze also said that the opposition were trying to “escalate the situation”, adding that the authorities are ready to solve the disagreement through negotiations and long term reforms. “The main aim of the Government is not holding the parade, but maintaining peace in the country and avoiding any kind of provocations,” Bakradze said.

Analysts suggest that talk about a “split” in the opposition is part of the Government’s propaganda. Political commentator Shalva Pichkhadze has said that he does not see signs of a split. “It is natural that there is some difference of opinion within the opposition as it is composed of many political forces. However when they make statements their position is usually joint and agreed between the parties. This is exactly what is called the art of consensus,” Pichkhadze told The Messenger, adding that the Government-oriented TV channels greatly contribute to spreading the idea that there is a disagreement within the opposition.

As for the May 26 issue, Pichkhadze hailed the decision of the authorities not to aggravate the situation, calling it a “right step”. The analyst said unblocking Kostava Street was also the “right decision.”