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Opposition propose their own plan to the authorities

By Mzia Kupunia
Wednesday, May 20
The non-Parliamentary opposition has made several specific reform proposals in a statement released on May 18.

Their statement consists of six points. The first is the resignation of the President and the holding of early Presidential elections, free and fair Parliamentary elections and Tbilisi Mayoral elections by autumn 2009. The second is making constitutional reforms: the new Parliamentary elections should be conducted by October 2009 in the form specified by these constitutional changes and a plebiscite should be held about them. The third point is that nominees agreed by the opposition should be appointed to the positions of Justice and Interior Minister and the Department of Constitutional Security and other security agencies should be removed from the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry in order to ensure the political impartiality of the law enforcement system.

The fourth point is that a new Chairman of the Supreme Court, agreed by the opposition, should be appointed in order to start court system reforms. The fifth is that a new Chair of the Central Election Commission should be appointed, again approved by the opposition as well, in order to start reforming the electoral system and laws, and finally the opposition wants to make the media more “healthy” by appointing a new Director and Board of the Georgian Public Broadcaster, with the Second Channel of GPB henceforth being managed by political scientists and experts. The opposition also says that the Government should return Imedi TV to its “legal owner” and abolish the “artificial barrier” of broadcasting licensing.

“The President has expressed a general readiness to carry out reforms in several directions, and that’s why the opposition is offering the Government some proposals. If these reforms are made by May 26, it will be possible to reach a national agreement and to start the process of strengthening Georgia’s statehood,” the opposition leaders’ statement says.

Tina Khidasheli from the Republican Party, which is now part of Irakli Alasania’s Alliance for Georgia, has said that by making their proposals the opposition has made the President’s offer concrete and pointed out which “real” steps can be taken. Khidasheli noted that the points proposed by the opposition are the ones proposed by the Government, but “Our points are just more concrete.” “It is impossible to change the political situation in Georgia without free elections. The country is obviously in political crisis,” Khidasheli said. “Saakashvili should take the steps which will disarm us. People come out into the streets because they do not trust the Government. If Saakashvili takes specific actions with immediate results, it will be very hard for the opposition to maintain the support of the public,” one of the leaders of the Republican Party said.

The authorities have responded to the proposals of the “radical” opposition by saying that it is possible to meet some of the demands of the opposition through the process of negotiations. National Movement MP Petre Tsiskarishvili has said that if the negotiations continue and some systemic changes are carried out, “maximal supervision” of the Ministries by Parliament will be provided. “Then naturally, only people approved by Parliament will be appointed as the heads of these Ministries, and a wide spectrum of political forces will be represented in Parliament,” Tsiskarishvili said, adding that the opposition will have the right to take decisions only after they represent an official Government branch. “Now, when they are talking to us from blocked streets and cells, we will not accept any of their ultimatums,” the MP noted.

Some are skeptical that the Government will really consider the proposals of the opposition. Political analyst Gia Khukhashvili has said that the authorities have no resources left to make tangible changes. “I doubt that the Government will make even small concessions. The administration has to talk about negotiations and dialogue to show off in front of the international community, and also to waste time, not for any other reason,” Khukhashvili told The Messenger.

“The Government’s problem is society, not the opposition. The opposition is merely voicing the concerns of the Georgian population. The Government can solve people’s problems without talking to the opposition and if the authorities are able to resolve the problems of Georgian citizens the opposition will serve no purpose. The only reason the authorities are not doing this is that they are not ready to solve people’s problems,” the analyst added.

Meanwhile the opposition continues to hold protest rallies. A demonstration was held on Tuesday in front of the former Interior Ministry building in Ortachala. Protestors also blocked the Kakheti highway close to the new building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for half an hour.

The leader of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia, former Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadze, has said she will sue the President for attacking her honour and reputation. According to Burjanadze, the President accused her of serving Russia’s interests during the meeting with opposition leaders on May 11. Burjanadze said Saakashvili’s statement was “absurd”.