The messenger logo

Further split in the opposition

By Messenger Staff
Monday, October 19
The meeting held by opposition leaders on October 15 demonstrated that there has been a further split in the opposition spectrum. Some of the non-Parliamentary opposition are determined to restart street protests at the beginning of November and others plan to participate in elections and are getting ready for the local elections scheduled for May 30, 2010. All parties however say that they still have a common goal, the removal of the current administration.

The parties participating in the street actions will be the Movement for United Georgia, led from exile by Irakli Okruashvili and in Tbilisi by Eka Beselia, the Democratic Movement-United Georgia, led by Nino Burjanadze, The Way of Georgia led by Salome Zourabichvili and the Conservative Party led by Zviad Dzidziguri and Kakha Kukava. The National Forum, led by Kakha Shartava and Gubaz Sanikidze, has said that it will not participate in these protests unless a clearly determined action plan and goal are established beforehand. The Labour Party has stated its own preconditions for taking part in any opposition action: the other parties must make Labour leader Shalva Natelashvili as the leader of the united opposition and the only alternative to Saakashvili. It also demands that all the parties reject any possibility of conducting negotiations with Saakashvili and instead lead a campaign of civil disobedience. Furthermore Labour demands that the opposition parties should publicly state that they will refuse to take Georgia into NATO.

The Republicans and New Rights and their partners in the Alliance for Georgia now insist on participating in the local elections instead of protesting in the street, though they took part in last year’s protests. Individually, all the parties repeatedly insist on the necessity of opposition unity but each is promoting its own way of removing the Government, refusing to compromise, and thus making this unity almost unachievable. To create unity out of diversity however some opposition leaders accept that there will be different approaches and suggest they can co-exist. Leader of the People’s Party Koba Davitashvili has stated that all methods of struggle should be used, including both elections and street protests. Nino Burjanadze thinks that everybody has the right to choose their own way forward but which way is the most effective should be analysed thoroughly. The Conservatives are also sure that two opposition methods can be harmonised.

One thing was agreed on October 15 – that the parties will still try to elaborate a common action plan and not attack each other. Any mutual accusations by opposition parties simply make the enemy stronger, thinks leader of Defend Georgia Levan Gachechiladze. But there are different views on this question too. Conservative co-leader Zviad Dzidziguri wants to know why opposition parties collaborating with the administration should not be criticized.

So the situation is such. The opposition has already divided into Parliamentary and non-Parliamentary wings, by the parties’ own choice not that of the electorate, and there are many differences within the non-Parliamentary section. All this is happening while possible local elections are looming. Why ‘possible’? Because the suggested date of these, May 30, has not been approved by Parliament and there have been many delays in making amendments to the election code as there is no consensus between the administration and opposition over these. So whether these elections will be held at all in May is still in question.

There is a further threat. If there are no elections in May the more moderate parties, who are pinning their hopes on these elections, could also come out into the streets. Will that comfort anyone, or the country as a whole?