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We will have a joint candidate soon, say opposition

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, February 24
The opposition are still trying to identify their common candidate for the Tbilisi Mayoral elections and began consultations on this at the Our Georgia-Free Democrats office on February 23. Defend Georgia leader Levan Gachechiladze, Conservative Kakha Kukava and the Our Georgia-Free Democrats' Koka Guntsadze and Zurab Abashidze began the discussions and were later joined by representatives of other parties.

“You will soon hear the good news that the opposition has a joint candidate. This decision will not be made in a day, but we are in discussion at the present moment and the result of this will be announced soon,” Kakha Kukava stated on leaving. Levan Gachechiladze said that the consultations will decide whether the joint candidate will be identified by means of a primary or an opinion poll. "The doors to our consultations, negotiations and meetings are open for all opposition parties,” Gachechiladze said.

The New Rights, like Our Georgia-Free Democrats part of the Alliance for Georgia, will also take part in consultations to identify a joint candidate at some point. Its member Mamuka Katsitadze has stated that holding a primary is not the right way to do this. He added that Irakli Alasania is still the Alliance candidate at this point. "The only difference is that we have a principled position regarding the primary and I do not think this issue will be resolved unequivocally," Katsitadze stated. All three Alliance parties will try to retain Alasania as the candidate, but one of the leaders of the Republicans, Davit Berdzenishvili, said that "I hope Alasania will find an acceptable way to identify the joint candidate during the consultations with the opposition without Noghaideli. The Conservatives will only get actively involved in the consultations after the idea of holding a primary has been abandoned." The Republicans and New Rights did not attend the 23 February meeting.

Irakli Alasania did not attend the meeting himself either but has already expressed his eagerness to select a common candidate. "The door is open for everyone. But who will take part in this process is still unknown. Everything will become clear in the near future. We have suggested our way to reveal the common candidate. We have a model which will ensure that the candidate is chosen without external intervention. The candidate should be identified soon, but I will not stop my campaign and wait until then. I plan to continue conducting an active electoral campaign,” Alasania said.

Former Public Defender and now Alliance member Sozar Subari said that the best way to select the common candidate is via a public opinion poll. "I absolutely share the Republicans' and New Rights' attitude to the primaries. An opinion poll is the best way to select the candidate for several reasons. Firstly it will show us the people's opinion, secondly the Government will not be involved in this process, and thirdly it will need less finance than primaries. I appeal to all opposition parties to agree on a concrete mechanism, instead of just talking about unification,” Subari said.

One of the other declared candidates for Tbilisi Mayor, independent Nika Ivanishvili, has also expressed a readiness to participate in the opposition consultations. Defend Georgia's Goga Khaindrava came late to the meeting and did not comment for the media afterwards. "There are many Government representatives working as journalists and that’s why I will not comment,” Khaindrava said.

All the participants declared the meeting successful and consultations will continue at the Chess Palace on February 24. "Once we agree how the single candidate will be revealed, they will be," Aleksi Petriashvili, a member of Alasania’s team, stated.

The Parliamentary opposition has not yet decided whether to take part in these consultations. The Press Service of Jondi Baghaturia, leader of Georgian Troupe, has told The Messenger that it has made no decision on this yet. .