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Opposition adopts Obligations Charter

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, June 4
On Wednesday non-Parliamentary opposition parties signed a charter outlining the obligations and responsibilities they were committing themselves to. According to the 9-page document, which contains a ten-point plan for building a “European style, democratic and rich” Georgia, says that the country needs “serious changes.”

The Obligations Charter, signed by all the non-Parliamentary parties except the Labour Party, the Freedom Party and Zurab Noghaideli’s Movement for Fair Georgia, states that the best way to develop the country is to hold snap Presidential and Parliamentary elections. “The President should resign immediately, as should the Interior Minister and the Chairmen of the Supreme Court and the Central Election Commission,” the document reads. “The protest against Saakashvili’s regime will only end if the President resigns and Georgian society sees real steps being taken towards ending the misuse of power and the violation of general rights of the citizens and the start of real democratic processes in Georgia,” it continues.

The non-Parliamentary opposition forces have taken on the responsibility of implementing the 10 points listed in the charter: ensuring free and fair elections, a free court system, civil control of the police, a free media, transparent government, preventing political persecution, protecting property, undertaking a balanced foreign policy, crating a free economy and restoring Georgia’s territorial integrity. “We believe that real changes will bring a Government based on the values of tolerance, respect, honour, democracy and honesty,” the Charter reads.

After the signing of the document at the Supreme Court Building, the opposition leaders said the Charter indicates the unity of the non-Parliamentary opposition forces. Gia Maisashvili from the Party of the Future said, “this step and unity are necessary, but a drop in the ocean compared to the actions needed to change the Government.” Former Presidential candidate and opposition leader Levan Gachechiladze said every Government should take into the consideration the points outlined in the Charter. “This charter creates the values of the future Georgia, we should defend all these principles and values,” he noted.

Representatives of the Movement for Fair Georgia, one of the three parties which refused to sign the Charter, said they will not sign any document just for the sake of putting their signature on it. According to the leader of the movement, Zurab Noghaideli, his political team has always upheld the principles listed in the charter. “Now it is important to drag the country out of its political and economic crisis,” Noghaideli said. “We have a dilemma before us – civil confrontation or elections in autumn,” he added. Soso Shatberashvili from the Labour Party said that his party had already adopted an “identical” document, the Metechi Agreement. “So the Labour Party does not need to sign any additional document,” Shatberashvili noted.

The non-Parliamentary opposition representatives say the signatory parties and the media will be the control mechanism for checking if the Charter commitments are met. “A number of opposition parties signed the document, and it is obvious that not all of them will be in government after Saakashvili, so they, together with media representatives, will monitor if the points of the charter are being met,” David Gamkrelidze from the New Rights said.

Some analysts said it was a bit too late to outline an action plan. Political analyst Soso Tsintsadze noted that almost two months have passed since the start of the protest rallies and the opposition has presented its future action plan to its supporters only now. In response to the criticism, the opposition leaders say “better late than never.” David Gamkrelidze agreed that it would have been better if the charter had been adopted earlier. “The opposition is very diverse, all political forces have their own platform and views and it took some time to work out a joint plan,” Gamkrelidze told The Messenger.

The leader of the New Rights said the Charter will shed more light on the strategy of the opposition and bring more supporters. “Maybe working out a more detailed action plan and taking some more steps is needed to make the society more convinced about our future prospects,” Gamkrelidze said.