More parties reject new opposition union
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, February 26The National Forum and the National Democratic Party have joined the New Rights and Republicans in refusing to join the opposition efforts to identify a single candidate for Tbilisi Mayor, their leaders said on February 25.
Kakha Shartava, leader of the National Forum, has broken his silence about the ongoing opposition consultations only after the 24 February meeting at the Tbilisi Chess Palace at which Zurab Noghaideli, head of the Movement for Fair Georgia, was revealed to be a key figure in the talks about how a joint candidate should be selected. "Opposition unity will have a chance of victory only if the public are convinced that the opposition are better than Saakashvili’s regime. I will not take part in meetings with Zurab Noghaideli, as this will be accepted only by Russia and The Kremlin. At the present moment I can see no agreement among the parties which are holding consultations. Irakli Alasania is a leader among them, but they have not yet nominated him as their common candidate,” Shartava stated.
“The meeting at the Chess Palace and Noghaideli actively participating in it are nothing more than unification against the country’s interests. Those politicians have chosen to betray Georgia. Behind the mask of elections, the Russian Government is preparing to change the present Georgian Government by means of revolution. When such kinds of marionette politicians come to power they will recognise the independence of Abkhazia and so-called South Ossetia,” Bachuki Kardava, one of the leaders of National Democrats, said.
The parties taking part in the consultations have immediately responded to these allegations. "The National Forum’s and NDM’s statements are the part of the Georgian Government’s campaign. I appeal to them not to take part in the Government's games and instead join in the unification process,” Noghaideli stated. Koba Davitashvili of the People’s Party reminded Shartava of the November 7, 2007 events. "The Government stated then that the National Forum and Labour had involved the other opposition parties in a Russian plot and asked us to break off contact with those two parties and start collaborating with the Government. We did not accept this then and continued to support the Labour Party and National Forum. Now I appeal to Shartava to make the same decision and take part in this process,” Davitashvili said. Our Georgia-Free Democrats, led by Irakli Alasania, said that the meeting at the Chess Palace was a step forward for the opposition and it does not agree with the two parties’ statements.
The various opposition groups' activities have aroused controversy in the Georgian media, and analysts and sociologists are likewise divided in their opinions about them. Analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze has told the Georgian media that through the so-called primaries the Russian Government will get to know which Georgian parties are Russia's supporters. "As for Alasania’s decision to start collaborating with parties with an orientation fundamentally different to his own, this should only have been made for very serious reasons, but Alasania has not talked about any yet,” Sakvarelidze mentioned. The Kvela Siakhle newspaper suggests that Alasania’s decision might has been prompted by the fact that he has not received as much support from the West as he had expected.
Ex-premier Noghaideli announced on February 25 that the final decision on what mechanism will be used for selecting the common candidate will be known by the end of the month.