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Opposition now unite as All Minus One Plus One

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, February 25
The formula "All Minus One", which the Alliance for Georgia has previously proposed as a means of creating opposition unity, has been abandoned. The leaders of Our Georgia – Free Democrats, the Movement for United Georgia, Defend Georgia, the Conservative Party, the People’s Party and Christian Georgia announced this while meeting culture and society representatives at the Chess Palace on February 24. The "One" of the original formula was Zurab Noghaideli, and by extension his party, the Movement for a Fair Georgia, which was also present at this meeting and will now be included in the opposition union.

“All Minus One does not exist any more. The main thing is that the unity of the opposition has been achieved, which is necessary for victory,” Zurab Noghaideli stated. "Consultations will resolve everything. Despite the fact that we support the idea of holding a primary, we are ready to discuss any method of identifying a united opposition candidate,” Noghaideli said.

Levan Gachechiladze, head of Defend Georgia, said at the meeting at the Chess Palace that the Government wants to control the Georgian people to achieve victory but will fail due to the unity of the opposition. "We are ready for everything. I’ll be the last soldier standing if necessary,” Gachechildze said with tears in his eyes. Irakli Alasania, Leader of the Alliance for Georgia, said that "We have started to select the common candidate for the Mayoral elections in Tbilisi and will continue until we have done it. Tbilisi is not the property of one man and we should regain it by means of elections. We should stand together to fulfill this aim.”

However Alasania’s position is not shared by the other parties in the Alliance for Georgia, the Republicans and New Rights. Their representatives have stated that the Chess Palace meeting was nothing more than an attempt by Noghaideli to establish himself in the opposition. "All the people who applauded Noghaideli today are responsible for Georgia’s future. Instead of crying all the opposition leaders should have stood down in favour of Alasania, as this would be real unification,” Tina Khidasheli from the Republicans said. Manana Nachkebia from the New Rights also told The Messenger that the meeting had been regrettable. "Noghaideli is now to play an important role in identifying the single candidate, which is absolutely unacceptable for our party. I doubt that the parties who were meeting today are seeking any real outcomes. While they hold meetings the most important thing, time, is being lost. Those opposition leaders have suddenly remembered the elections now there are only three months left,” Nachkebia said.

The Labour Party told The Messenger, "We are already boycotting the upcoming elections and have called them a fraud. The most reasonable step the opposition could have taken would have been to do the same, however they have chosen another way. We respect their attempt to change things though elections, but do not think it will bring any positive result,” Nestan Kirtadze said. The poet Davit Maghradze, head of the Public Hall, stated that "The public has to fight till the end to achieve a normal life, there is no alternative to agreement on a joint candidate."

Analyst Gia Khukhashvili told The Messenger that creating a new union at the expense of destroying another, the Alliance for Georgia, cannot be considered positive. "This new union [including Noghaideli] will not have a higher rating than the Alliance for Georgia has today", Khukhashvili said. Asked by this newspaper why Alasania has decided to collaborate with Noghaideli, analyst Soso Tsintsadze would not answer. "I have no exact information on this, that is why I cannot give an appropriate answer,” Tsintsadze said.

The opposition leaders stated after the meeting that a final decision on who will be the common candidate will be made in 2-3 days.