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Opposition unites around charter

By Messenger Staff
Monday, June 8
It looks like most of the non-Parliamentary opposition parties have united around the charter they adopted on June 3. This so-called Charter of Commitments outlines the major points of the opposition’s development plan for the country and how they intend to achieve them. The document was signed in front of the Supreme Court and this was done for certain symbolic reasons.

It stresses in the 10 point charter that its signatories take on the commitment to take power democratically and develop the country in a democratic direction. All the paragraphs of the charter are balanced, partly based on national traditions and culture and partly reflecting Western democratic values. The non-Parliamentary opposition plan to facilitate the conducting of fair elections, create an independent court system, to put the police under civil control, to make the media really independent, to act transparently in government, to ban political persecution, to defend private property rights, lead a balanced foreign policy, develop a market economy and restore territorial integrity in a peaceful way.

The charter criticises the current administration and lists the shortcomings of Saakashvili’s governance, which according to the signatories make the resignation of the current leadership and its prompt replacement necessary. “The current Government does not represent the people of Georgia. The President and his circle are corrupt. The administration uses its personal power to dominate the state structures, ignoring the rule of law and constitutional rights,” says the document. The charter highlights the anti-democratic character of the current leadership, giving as examples of its actions the biased court system, torture, abuse of media rights, non-transparent methods of working, an irrational and dangerous foreign policy, hindering the free development of the economy and so on.

The charter particularly criticises current foreign policy, stressing that the country’s leadership could have ignored Russian provocations but instead got trapped into a devastating war, resulting in another wave of IDPs and lost lives and territories. Of course the opposition promises to correct everything, and normalise relations with Russia. However one should comment that the issue of foreign policy is left rather vague in the document. It is unlikely that any future Government of Georgia could establish relations with Russia based on mutual respect. It is even less likely that Russia will even consider altering its aggressive policy towards Georgia, no matter what type of leadership either country will have. This is a situation which the Saakashvili administration has to take responsibility for, but changing it will become a heavy burden for a future leadership.

The Labour Party has refused to sign the charter as it is not happy with Georgia’s pro-NATO orientation. Koko Gamsakhurdia from the Freedom Party and Zurab Noghaideli from the Movement for Fair Georgia have not signed either, saying that they have been fulfilling these commitments already and will continue to do so. Signing the charter however does not necessarily change anything in the short term. The opposition has not ruled out taking power as a result of continual protest and further civil disobedience within the framework of democracy and constitutional order, and these protests are still the clearest manifestation of who the opposition are and what they want.

The charter demands not only Saakashvili’s resignation but that of the Ministers of Internal Affairs and Justice, the Mayor of Tbilisi, the Chairman of the Supreme Court and the Chairman of the Central Election Commission, and only then the holding of Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Moreover the document envisages carrying out an open investigation of these individuals, conducted by the Public Defender. All in all the charter shows that the non-Parliamentary opposition is, and wants to remain, united, and that it is leaving little room in the near future for compromise. Everything is as it was before it was signed, therefore.