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Opposition unite in seeking UN support

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, January 6
At the end of 2009 the split and increasingly less popular opposition united to do one thing: send a letter to the Secretary General of the UN requesting that this organisation conduct the forthcoming local elections in Georgia, not only observing them but actually organising and running them too. Most analysts say that this appeal is nonsensical and unrealistic, but democratic elections can only be conducted when there is some sort of opposition to the ruling party and that opposition is given the chance to compete fairly. As the letter showed, none of the opposition parties trust the present administration to give them this opportunity, and failure to do so will have an impact on the legitimacy of any election held by that administration.

In the 2009 confrontation between the opposition and the authorities the latter emerged victorious, managing to withstand the one hundred days of protest rallies and even counterattack. Consequently the opposition split and their rating fell dramatically. The administration turned running the country into conducting a thinly-disguised election campaign, and involved the opposition in some aspects of its work. But the problem is this: if the opposition does not participate in the elections and/or presents sufficient evidence that they were rigged no one either in Georgia or the rest of the world will consider those elections just and democratic.

The administration understands the problem, and has started involving certain parts of the opposition in various aspects of its work related to elections, such as the discussions over the election code. On December 28 Parliament adopted amendments to the election code agreed with opposition groups which participated in these discussions, but not all the opposition forces are satisfied with them. Even the Parliamentary opposition Christian Democrats did not vote for them on December 28. Some opposition parties also participate in Security Council sessions and some in the commission drafting a new constitution, but this simply highlights the divergence between the opposition and the majority more starkly. Why the Government considers involving the opposition at all, if it maintains its own conduct is above reproach, is another question.

On December 30 the whole opposition, Parliamentary and non-Parliamentary, constitutional and radical, pro-Western and pro-sombody, agreed with the Labour initiative to hold elections under the UN's aegis. The letter was signed by more than 20 political organisations and sent to Ban Ki-moon. The signatories hope that the UN will respond positively to it and thus create the foundations for establishing democratic elections in Georgia once and for all. But will the UN be willing to run the local elections of a sovereign state without the consent of the President, Government and Parliament of that state? Most likely this will not be the case.

“Why would the UN interfere in Georgia’s internal affairs?” asks analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze. Many other analysts share his scepticism. Most probably the UN will ignore this particular letter, but the general mistrust of the Government by the entire opposition cannot be ignored. Furthermore, if the split opposition manage to unite to write this letter, why won't they unite over something else too?

The current administration, known as the Rose Administration, came to power in November 2003 through the Rose Revolution, which was caused by rigged elections. Is this a lesson for anyone? The Rose Administration claims that the elections will be held genuinely, but the whole opposition claim that previous Presidential and Parliamentary elections were manipulated. The spring/summer rallies showed that there are hundreds of thousands of people who are ready to come out into the streets if they are given enough motivation. The only way to prevent this happening is to ensure that the elections are held in a correct, just and transparent manner, and these principles are then applied in government by whoever wins them.